Sunday, March 4, 2012

sideway: ny

Sideway: NY (2011) is a truly unique, 2D platformer experience with a 3D twist to it. Enter a world of graffiti with fun graphics, great tunes and hours of replay value. I first saw this game at a New York Comic Con booth, I didn’t even bother to wait in line, I knew it was an essential purchase. You could say, love at first sight. Pick it up as a downloadable title on PSN or for PC. Details below...


The writing on the wall

While graffiti has been interwoven into almost every video game in most cases, it’s just a garnish; often overlooked. Texture artists use it as commonly as they do pixels and polygons. Few titles have historically tried to make graffiti as part of game play. Most recently there was Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (2006). You could even say Super Mario Bros. Sunshine (2002) took a stab at graffiti (albeit more anti) in gameplay. Probably the closest comparison would be from way back on the Dreamcast system: Jet Grind Radio and JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future. Rarely, has the subject of graffiti been the foundation of the gameplay like it is in Sideway: NY. You are the actual graffiti on the wall. This entire game is restricted to the flat surfaces of the walls of the city.

Enter the comically rendered, urban setting of New York City. Its muted colors keep it just a shade away from looking like a “kids” game. Nox is a graffiti artist that has been battling with his rival named Spray. Unbeknownst to Nox, Spray has this ability to enter the 2D planes of the graffiti walls. Nox is then coerced into the graffiti walls to confront Spray head on. There is a bit about his missing girlfriend as well, but this game isn’t really about the story. Oh and Spray is the bad guy, now let’s play.

Getting up

As a platformer, Sideway: NY basically about getting from the start to the level boss. The levels are challenging and include some “wait-a-minute” puzzle moments. The controls start out with a simple jump, punch and slide mechanic. In later levels Nox will acquire more advanced moves such as jump attacks, ground pounds and paint grenades. The different moves are explained quite well through Nox’s mentor, Fume. Button directions are also conveniently tagged up on the walls when you need them. Eventually Nox can gain up to 16 unique moves, quite the arsenal. Gameplay also includes 2 player co-op (drop-in, drop-out couch style). The second controller plays as Nox’s mentor, Fume.

Travel the flat surfaces of the cities’ buildings and rooftops. While confined to the painted (think “flat”) surfaces of buildings, you can climb up and over drainpipes and scaffolding. You can cross planes around smooth corners and travel from building to building via connecting  billboards or bridges. Gather score bubbles, health and paint along the way to rack up high scores.

Then there are the monsters that you will need to battle. Nox has his basic punch move and eventually learns jump kicks. Slide moves and paint grenades can stagger certain opponents. Level ending, boss battles usually require a recently learned new move as the key to defeating them.

As with most platformers you will find a few “cheap-death” instances, nothing I would consider flawed just don’t expect Sideway: NY to be a walk-in-the-park. As expected, the game does ramp up the difficulty in the later levels. Levels can be replayed to try and finish objectives or just get a higher score. Game time is not nearly as long as a full-priced game release but for the price point it’s well worth your time.


The entire soundtrack to Sideway: NY is made up of custom beats and rhymes performed by SkullCandy artist Mr. Lif. This hip hop is smooth, whimsical and perfectly matched to the gameplay. Sunny side streets are accompanied by quicker more upbeat verses, while darker areas of the game transition into more melodic and eerie beats. This is a soundtrack you could learn the words to; I only wish there were more tracks to choose from.


Sideway: NY comes off not only as entertaining but also authentic in it’s subject matter. Not focusing on the darker gangster qualities of graffiti but rather the fun and color of the paintings themselves. While I was not quite old enough to fully enjoy the 80’s this game reminds me of the photos and stories of graffiti culture’s roots and not the negative stigmas that exist in reality. The art style comes off very genuine and not as just some gimmick.

Pick up Sideway: NY and test your platformer skills. Recommended for music fans and gamers looking for something light but also challenging. Animation fans will enjoy the art style and coloring. At a low price point of $9.99 it is well worth the downloading time.

You stole my "e" bro

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