The “Only on PSN” campaign rages on with our next review, Sideway. Sideway is more or less your typical 2D-platformer, much like a Super Mario Brothers game, but this game has a literal twist in that it’s a 2D platformer in a 3D plane-scape. Your character is completely flat, but as you cross from one axis to another, the gravity shifts and you wrap around the edge, and from there you start interacting with the new environment. It sounds a bit confusing, but it’s a simple concept and it adds a whole new layer of depth to the gameplay, making this a very interesting game.
In Sideway you play as Nox, a New York City graffiti artist out causing havoc, as it seems he usually does. While on his tagging bender, he tags over an existing tag placed by another artist named Spray. However, Spray is not just any old artist but a supernatural force who, upset by what Nox did to his tag, pulls Nox into his two-dimensional world. As such, Nox learns of Spray’s ultimate plan – to take over Nox’s three-dimensional world. Nox wouldn’t be much of a hero if he let this happen, so he takes up the quest to stop Spray from taking over the world and then find a way back home.
There isn’t much depth to the story, so this isn’t going to grip you and keep you on the edge of your seat. However, Sideway is still a great platformer. This game controls like a dream: the platforming is fun and interesting, and Nox moves around the foreign environments with ease. Nox has some float to his jump and you can steer his jump in mid-air, which gives you a good amount of control over your character. Hitting jumps are easy and accurate, and this title’s controls are as solid as those found in any platformer you’ve come across.
There is more to the game than just jumping and running around the levels, as there are lots of collectibles scattered throughout for you to collect. All in all, there are about twelve stages, with both common collectibles and character upgrades found throughout them. Some are hidden in plain sight, but many are hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the levels. Of course, there are trophies associated with collecting everything, so trophy-hunters will have their hands full. There is no direct benefit to picking up all the collectibles, so if you aren’t into scouring a game for trinkets, you don’t have to. For those interested in that kind of thing, though, there is plenty of replay value for you here. All levels are replayable on their own and the game lets you know exactly how many collectibles you are missing at any point, so although some of the collectibles may be difficult to find, there are lots of support options.
If the gameplay and collectibles don’t sell you on the game, then the art style has a good chance of doing it. The game features lots of graffiti-style art that moves fluidly as you move across the level, and the graphics are clean and crisp and look great on the Playstation 3. In addition to the graphics, the soundtrack is a strong point in this game. The soundtrack was mixed by Skull Candy artist Mr. Lif, and all tracks are hip-hop influenced. Whether you love it or hate it, the soundtrack really adds atmosphere to the game. There is only one issue with the soundtrack and that is the music looping continuously. If you tend to look around for all those collectibles or are having some trouble navigating a level, you will hear the same song several times in a row. Most tracks sound great but after five or more times in a row, they get old. However, this doesn’t diminish the quality of the soundtrack or take away from the game. Running, jumping and cascading across the streets of 2D New York City never looked or sounded so good.
Sideway is the platformer that you have been waiting for. When a game comes along and has above-average gameplay, it’s worth your time. But when that game also features elements that make item-collecting easy, an excellent artistic style, and an awesome soundtrack, then you have a game that is a must-buy. Unfortunately, Xbox 360 owners will not be able to download it since this is a PSN-only title, but if you have a Playstation then there is no reason why you shouldn’t give this title a look. We highly recommend this title to platformer fans everywhere, especially if you’ve been craving something a little left of the center.
[xrr rating=9/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a review copy of the Playstation 3 version of Sideway by Sony Online Entertainment