Sideway: New York – A Refreshing Take On The Platformer [Review]

  • Platform: PS3 (PSN – Reviewed) / PC
  • Published by: Sony Online Entertainment
  • Developed by: Play Brains / Fuel Industries
  • Genre: Platformer
  • ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10 and up
  • Number of Players: 1-2
  • Release Date: United States: October 11th, 2011

Every so often a game is developed that breaks the mold of the cookie cutter guidelines on what makes a good game. Sideway: New York does just that. In a genre that is pretty saturated, and with few ways to bring something fresh to the table, Sideway: New York found a way. Sideway takes you on an adventure through the urban walls of New York. Think of it as an urban/Hip-Hop mix of Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio) and Paper Mario all on a Rubik’s Cube. Pretty wild, huh? You take on the character of Nox, who appears to be just a normal kid, who happens to be a graffiti artist, oh and is also pretty proficient at parkour. A jack of all urban trades. Nox is turned into art himself and sucked into the world of “Sideway” where his friend was kidnapped by the main villain, Spray. Now you must kick, flip, punch, slide, and color, yes color your way through Sideway to save your friend and defeat the evil Spray.

Sideway uses a mix of 2D platforming in a 3D environment, which leads for some crazy interesting action. Honestly, it’s hard for me to describe the gameplay without the help of a visual aid. So watch that video above if you haven’t seen any Sideway gameplay before. I compared the game earlier to a Rubik’s Cube with the thought of moving a character across 4 planes in different directions. This imaginative and innovative use of the environment in the game really added to the overall fun factor and what impressed me. As you make your way across one wall or roof, your goal is to continue and manipulate your point of view as it changes from wall to wall and plane to plane. Essentially you want to get from point A to point B by traveling across different planes.

As you go through the game fighting various goons and thugs, you also solve mini puzzles that will help you find upgrades and collectibles. Upgrades help you navigate the buildings and fight enemies. What I found interesting about everything in the game is that it’s all related to art. You yourself are art, so if you’re passing by a pipe of water, it can wash you away and kill you, if you draw your own tag name, you can use it as a platform, and more. The game is a testament to the fact that with a little creativity, and innovation, even games in a saturated genre can come out fresh and work well.

Controls in the game were simple and responsive. Each button on the Dualshock controller is mapped to a specific action for your character, whether it’s sliding, punching, gliding (catching “air time”), or throwing paint balls. As you upgrade throughout the game, a button is given that particular action and executed by simply pressing or holding it down. Granted, there are areas in the game where you might get a little frustrated while trying to jump to a level above or travel to another plane, but these few occasions are not enough to offset the balance that the game provides with some challenging gameplay for core gamers but simple designs for just about anyone to pick up.

The animation and graphics in the game are vibrant and colorful. A game’s graphics does not alone define if the game is good or bad but Sideway’s simple approach really helps set the overall tone. Keeping in tune with the urban graffiti art style of the game, enemies and environment elements all have a very “street” look to them as they are graffiti in a way themselves when in the world of Sideway. That includes Nox and friends. In addition to the visual art style, the music completes the overall hip-hop theme that is presented in the game. Oh, the music was just fine for the first of 16 levels; but after the one or two songs kept playing over and over, on every level, it got to be a bit irksome. Now, don’t get me wrong. The music matched the environment and theme that was presented in the game. My hope is that with the next game there will be more of a variety when it comes to both ambiance and the rest of the soundtrack.

As a downloadable title, some might be skeptical if it’s worth the purchase. Admittedly, the game doesn’t take very long to beat. There are about 16 stages that can all be beaten within a few hours. However, if you really want to go through the game and challenge yourself, there is a lot more to do. Extra gameplay value is added with secret collectibles and upgrades that can be found in hidden areas in addition to timed challenges that will reward you if you beat the goal. You will have to really look around each level to find all of the hidden items and upgrades. Add that to an online ranking system where you can compare your scores for each level to those of other players, I would say with a firm, “yes!” this game is worth the $9.99 ($7.99 PS+) value to download.

In conclusion, Sideway: New York is one of those few downloadable titles that we get and actually turns out to be a true gem. By redefining platforming for its own needs, the game adds depth and value that is hard to find these days. A vibrant world, clever puzzles, action, and innovative platforming, along with an urban hip-hop vibe really sets this game apart as one that should be played.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10 

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