OkunoKA Madness (Xbox One) Review
Tons of levels, all of which can be played at any time
Soundtrack ain’t half bad
Bosses, leaderboards, hidden collectables, and elemental abilities provide depth and personality
Momentum can be a little weird and requires adjusting time
A small pause before restarting is annoying
Super, super hard to get an “S” rank on almost all stages
Originally released on Switch as OkunoKA, Ignition Publishing and Caracal Games are upgrading purchasers to OkunoKA Madness for free. This beat-the-clock tough-as-nails platformer is designed for speed runners who enjoy punishment, similar to Super Meat Boy, and like to optimize runs to shave that tenth of a second off the final time.
Playing as a blue gremlin trying to save the world by eating evil souls, the goal is to ultimately reach the end of each stage as quickly as possible. Along the way will be hazards and enemies with an occasional collectable or secret positioned in tricky locations. What separates this speed running platformer from the wealth of others in this genre are the elemental abilities. In additional to the standard run, sprint, and jump moves, the player can activate a line of water to freeze, for example, to make a new platform at the press of a button. OkunoKA Madness has ton of content that will take hours to complete even though some stages can be finished in only a few seconds.
What I like most about this digital download is the fact that the player is not restricted. Having trouble with that one stage? No problem, just go to the world map and pick a new level. The player is not limited in progression, so you don’t have to beat level 6 to see level 7. A game with this kind of difficulty needs to have this necessary feature. There are also alternative Vortex challenges that can be found in select stages, then really up the challenge by having an allocated number of lives. Boss battles are also tough as the player will need to rely on pattern recognition but also twitch reflexes. It is really cool that scores are instantly posted to the leaderboard upon finishing a stage. Make no mistake, earning an “S” rank is nearly impossible as getting one of these demands perfection. The first stage, which can be completed in literally 2 seconds, requires pixel perfect skill to unlock the highest rank – I was unable to do this after several attempts. You know you are in for a tough time when you can’t ace the very first stage even after giving it your all with numerous attempts.
My gripes are annoying but luckily do not fully break the experience. First is the control. Wall jumping is too clingy and dash jumping doesn’t feel as accurate and responsive as it should be. It is one of those things that you start to get acclimated to the control scheme in time but never feels quite right although still playable. Also, a game like this means the player is going to die and restart a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So it is nice having a quick, instant restart but the player needs to wait a weird fraction of a second to spawn into the stage. Sure, a brief hesitation doesn’t sound like a big deal but it seems like it throws off the momentum of the playable character right out of the gate. Instead of hitting the ground running, that small pause can actually cause a whole run to stutter. It also won’t become apparent until you restarted a couple dozen times. Again, something this small cannot break the game but would have preferred a straight, instant restart instead of having the level load then the player spawn inside it.
The difficulty might be high but there is a lot here for players to enjoy. Since each stage is usually pretty short, restarting feels more like a challenge as opposed to rage quitting frustration. If you are into these types of titles, there is no reason for you not to check this out.
Also available on PS4, Switch, and PC.
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com