Sideway: New York Review
Producer: Sony Online Entertainment
North American Release Date: October 11, 2011
European Release Date: October 11, 2011
Trophies: Yes, | 7 | 1 | 2
Back in the earlier stages of gaming, side-scrolling platformers ruled the market with gamers drooling over each Mario or Sonic game that came out. However, since gaming made the jump into the next-generation, puzzle platformers have been somewhat forgotten or taken for granted. Sure, we still get creative games such as Littlebigplanet, but platforming games haven't been taken back to their roots successfully on the PS3 in a long while. Thus comes Sideway: New York, an ambitious PSN title that attempts to put a unique spin on classic platforming. Its unique style is intriguing, but is it a game worth playing?
Sideway: New York takes the classic side-scrolling platformer formula and turns it on its head. Sure, you traverse landscapes from side to side, but what's extra special is that you're not going to just be running and jumping on one surface, such as a wall, on top of other surfaces. What was once a rooftop now becomes a wall, and thanks to the awesome camera angles, the gameplay can be dizzying as you go from one wall around the corner to another, only to hit a switch and be sent flying up the wall and onto the now flat-surfaced rooftop. This interesting take on platforming is spectacular and refreshing, while still retaining the key concepts of a puzzle/platformer.
The sense of progress in Sideway is also outstanding, as each level comes with another upgrade or a new power to be discovered. Constantly learning new powers keeps the gameplay fresh and evolving, and by the end you'll have an insane arsenal of graffiti powers at your disposal, that are used to annihilate the various enemy types, or to traverse dangerous sections.
This isn't a wall, it's actually a roof!
In order for Sideway to keep your attention, Playbrains has added in a countless amount of collectables for you to find through exploration, or by just completing the level as normal. These collectables - or tags as they are called - add in a little extra incentive to replay levels in order to collect them all. Secret tags are hidden throughout the world, and it requires a decent amount of thinking in order for you to successfully obtain them.
Level design is top-notch as the guys Playbrains have outdone themselves here. It amazes me how intricately the levels have been designed. From enemies, to natural obstruction such as thorny sections that damage you, everything is placed perfectly as to further make the game more difficult, and to make the gameplay more streamlined. Flowing seamlessly through levels is a breath of fresh air and can be a blast.
What's so great about Sideway is that Playbrains nailed the difficulty. Thanks to constant checkpoints, the game can be extremely difficult without ever being frustrating. I once died over forty times against one of the four in-game bosses, but I never became frustrated with my deaths because I never lost much progress. While you might die countless times during one section of the game, you'll never throw rage quits or get angry at the game. Nailing a game's difficulty is not always easy to do, but Playbrains did a flawless job with it in Sideway.
Sideway: New York tells the story of Nox, a graffiti artist who, upon painting over a magical graffiti artist's graffiti, turns into the very art form he creates himself. After getting the hang of his new powers and abilities that he's gained by becoming graffiti, he sets out to banish the evil artists and bosses of Spray, the antagonist and evil magical artist aforementioned. Extra incentive is given to Nox to defeat Spray, as his girlfriend is also being trapped in this Sideway world by him.
What's unfortunate here is that you're thrust into the story without anyone or anything telling you what it's about. Some dialogue between characters makes interaction a tad lively, but overall there's just nothing really here.
You can also play the singleplayer campaign cooperatively with a friend.
Some of the backstory can be accessed through the pause menu, but this just isn't a good choice. Gamers shouldn't be forced to search for the story; it should either be presented to them or they'll have to do some work figuring it out on their own. Having the backstory in the pause menu is neither presenting the story, nor is it telling it in a vague way. It's presented to gamers, but not until you spend a decent amount of time looking for it.
Still, the concept of the plot is unique and fantastic. Being a living form of graffiti is cool, and it opens up even more gameplay possibilities. When the gameplay and the concept of the story connect together as well as it does in Sideway, you know you've got something special.
In the technical department, the game is generally pretty great with a unique artistic style when it comes to the graphics. While the game isn't graphically mind-blowing, it still gets the job done, and it does so in style. Every attack you do and every movement you make has some effect that makes the wall you're on more colorful as it fills with graffiti. Nox is a cool character to admire, especially because his animations are awesome eye-candy. He makes a kick, his foot shoots off some blue splatter paint, he slowly floats down a wall, a pink stream of spray paint follows him. Everything is slick and it looks downright cool.
The soundtrack is pretty fantastic, as it goes with the whole artistic style of the game. Most of the musical score is rap music, and it fits the theme perfectly. The problem here however, is that there just aren't many different songs. You'll find yourself listening to the same track multiple times in a row, which can definitely get boring and make you want to just turn off the sound altogether.
The graphics look sharp and have a nice pop to them.
Furthermore, the game isn't a technical masterpiece either. While frame rate drops are few and far between, the game will more often than not freeze up on you during one of its load screens. The constant freezing can make the game feel disjointed, and overall it just doesn't feel like Sideway is as polished as it could have been.
Sideway is a relatively easy PSN 100%, with the only real stumbling blocks being the two trophies for finding all of the collectables. Otherwise, the trophies are dedicated to your natural progression with the singleplayer, and thus it isn't too hard. While it might be time consuming for some to find all of the tags, it's ultimately not too difficult of a 100% to accomplish, and is good to go for if you need to fill in some extra downtime on the weekend.
Sideway: New York is a neat little game. The gameplay is familiar, yet unique, and it offers up a refreshing and addicting experience. Additionally, the artistic style of the graphics and the fitting music that's played throughout the levels both add to the overall immersion and theme of the game. While it does hit some road blocks when it comes to the story and polish of its technical prowess, Sideway: New York is ultimately one of the better PSN games you'll play this fall, and is worthy of the small amount of money it will cost you. Fans of old Mario and Sonic games will feel right at home, and enjoy reminiscing whilst also trying out the new and unique features Sideway has to offer.
The gameplay is solid with amazing level design, a perfect amount of difficulty, and cool concepts.
The story just isn't presented all too well here, but the way the gameplay is connected to the concept of the story is unrivaled even by the best the PS3 has to offer.
The artistic style of the graphics and the soundtrack help make Sideway all the more enjoyable, but it isn't as polished as it could have been.
Overall: 8/10 Great