Review: Sideway: New York (PS3)

Title: Sideway: New York
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.6 GB)
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Play Brains
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Sideway: New York is exclusive to the PlayStation Network.

Sideway: New York, at its core, is your “standard” platformer with a twist, and this time the twist is literal. Your character is actually transformed into graffiti, so all of the action takes place on the sides and roofs of buildings, yes, I said roofs. You adhere to the flat surfaces of buildings and can jump between the different parts of the buildings as easily as that fat plumber runs from pipe to platform. In other words, all of the action is in 2 dimensions, but via these transitions, you’re actually playing in all 3 dimensions.

The entire game mechanic is built around the graffiti culture. Enemies, platforms, and even your character are all painted. Your checkpoints are tags, and even items that you discover and pick-up are all painted in some way. This use of the three-dimensional space even adds a slight puzzle element, as your path twists and turns from the sides of building to the roof, back to the side, and even the side of a bridge from one side of the street to the other. Don’t fret though, as the entire screen flips to bring whatever surface you’re on to be the displayed area. So if you jump to a rooftop surface, the entire world shifts to bring that piece of the building into your field of view.

General gameplay consists of jumping, sliding, and a power-dive at the top of a jump. You’ll also obtain objects like paint bombs as you progress through the story. All-in-all controls are very tight, and the variety is robust. There are a few different classes of enemy, some with specific ways to defeat them. Luckily, the balance of enemies versus puzzle elements and general platforming is pretty even, as you also have to deal with the perils of the environment, like water, which doesn’t mix with paint at all (you’re made of paint remember.) Boss battles are again well done overall, with most relying on timing and finding the weakness of each one to be exploited. Since I’m getting old, this was a point of frustration for me, as my timing is getting pretty bad (anyone who was watching the Extra Life stream learned this about me pretty quickly.)

Levels are long and varied, and this game is not one that you’ll get through quickly. There’s a lot of content here and that’s a good thing.

This is where Sideway: New York shines, the visual style incorporating the look of tagged buildings and street objects. Character animation on all levels is fantastic, and the colors used work perfectly while at the same time keep the characters different enough to be discerned from the backgrounds so you don’t lose anything. Also, the effect of your world flipping and turning is well done 99% of the time, with a couple of transitions when you jump from the side of a building to the roof being a bit jarring until you get used to it. This is a visual stunner through-and-through, not because of effects like usual, but instead because of how well everything works.

Also, cutscenes are fully animated and are really cool. They’re colorful with silky-smooth animation, and are pretty fun to watch.

The audio is kind-of a mixed bag honestly. Sound effects quality varies a good deal. Nothing bad, but some lack that “Oomph” that others possess. There’s no dialogue anywhere in the game, and instead the use of subtitles and dialog bubbles handle that piece.

Where the huge double-edged sword appears though is in the music. Real-world hip-hop and other similarly styled tunes are used throughout the game, but some of the tracks are heavily censored because of language. Also, the music repeats quite a bit, and it’s something that was noticed even during the first world when I was live-streaming the game. It’s good music, but there’s just not enough of it. We all cheered when I finally made it to the first boss, since we finally got a new song to listen to!

Local cooperative play is available, and it works quite well, and actually, there are hidden items that can only be reached by playing with someone else. There is no competitive multiplayer, but that’s fine really since you do get ample content for $10.

I’d only seen this game briefly at E3, and never got a chance to play it. When I finally did get a chance to play it, I couldn’t put it down, as I mumbled “okay, one more section” over and over again. It’s not the best platformer I’ve played, but the unique mechanic of being a part of the buildings definitely brings a cool twist to the genre, and the nice thing is that everything actually works. It’s a very fun game, and really the only thing that knocks it down at all is the limited and censored soundtrack. This is a refreshing game from a small and relatively unknown developer, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table next. In other words, this is a fun game that oozes style at the right price.


Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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