League of Evil is your typical retro inspired 2D balls-hard platformer. Which, without wanting to sound like a jaded old man, are ten a penny these days. It’s one of those games where levels are short and deaths are constant. We’ve all played at least one of them before. League of Evil has been out a while though, in fact it was quite the standout app on iOS way back a lifetime ago in 2011 when these games weren’t quite so common.
The plot is just about given away in the title of the game. You are a badass cyborg soldier on a mission to stop the worlds most evil scientists from banding together and doing dastardly things. Each of the countless levels have an end goal of punching the head off a scientist which is actually quite humorous.
Of the boasted 140 stages, they are all pretty short, but can be quite challenging after the first dozen or so. The controls are very simple, something you’d expect from a former mobile game. One button is jump, another is a charging punch. Combining these two together gives you a surprising amount nimbleness, especially considering there’s a double jump, plus a wall jump. Given the right amount of walls, you can technically stay in the air a very long time.
For the most part the controls are precise and you always feel in control no matter how twitchy situations can get. The only problem I have is with the wall jumping. I generally don’t like how you always jump away from the wall your gripping to, even if you press the direction inwards. I know the idea is to fling between two walls but I feel like I should be able to climb a single wall without flying out all the time. It’s not a huge deal though and you soon get used to it even if you wish it was nuanced to which direction you press.
The stages are filled with hazards which get more and more varied as you make your way through the levels. Pretty standard spikes, turrets, lasers and so on. There’s not a huge variety on show to be honest and it’s often quite a while before you’re introduced to new things but I didn’t really feel as though I was getting bored by seeing the same things constantly. I think the shortness of each stage helps in that regard.
Aside from giving a finishing blow to the mad scientist at the end of each stage, there are a couple of other things to take into account. First is the secondary goal which is to collect a briefcase which, while not exactly hidden, is usually off the main road. Then there’s the three star score given for how fast you complete the level. Satisfying these two different objectives will require at least two play throughs for the majority of stages. Getting the briefcase and three stars is practically impossible in one go. These goals aren’t essentially in anyway, but there is quite a sense of achievement doing them, I must say. While the game can be fairly difficult in its own right, it’s here where the huge challenge lies. Honestly, just looking at some locations briefcases were in, I was like “Nah, I’ll pass.”. Considering you also need to complete the level after getting the briefcase or it doesn’t count, there was a certain amount of profanities coming out of my mouth, but it was all in good fun.
Whether it stands out production or personality-wise compared to other twitch platformers, even on the same system, is debatable. It probably won’t stand a chance when paired up against games like Super Meat Boy, VVVVVV and Slime-san in that department. The gameplay is a success though, indeed I much prefer this game than Slime-San which I reviewed very recently. Yes it’s just as difficult and occasionally frustrating just as the comparison, but it doesn’t overwhelm you and you feel in total control of your own destiny.
What really does stand out is the content. There’s just level after level after level, occasionally with a changing theme and once in a while introducing a new element to proceedings. Sure, each level lasts about 10-20 seconds but for the most part you’re not going to do it in your first try, or even your fifth or tenth. It’s a game that going to last you a while, especially if you want to go for 100% completion, getting three stars and the briefcase for each level. Personally that’s not my cup of tea but it’s there for those who love that sort of thing.
Then there’s the level editor. You can create your own levels, upload them to a server and even download levels made by other users across different game consoles. The editor itself has just about everything the standard levels have as far as I can tell and although the interface isn’t exactly Super Mario Maker standard, it’s still decent and you’ll have designed an acceptable level in no time at all. In order to be able to upload your level you need to first show it can be completed so all levels that you can download won’t be trick stages. Finding the quality may be difficult since searching seems pretty limited but the developer will pick levels they find good, although how long this will keep up after release isn’t known.
The visual style is obviously going for the retro 8-Bit style and while it does have a lot of colour, it’s really very basic, there’s no sense of uniqueness to each level since it was probably all created using the level editor. In that regard the visuals do look a bit cut and paste if that makes any sense. The music is full of chiptunes which are nice, although somewhat slightly repetitive. There are quite a few different songs, but the songs themselves are usually only a short melody repeated which I found slightly annoying. So yeah, the presentation as a whole is a little on the cheap side.
Overall though, League of Evil is a solid pick for Switch owners who like a tough platforming challenge. It may not stand out as much as it’s competitors in terms of how it looks, but the gameplay is very much there. It’s simple and solid and the generous amount of content means it’s an easy recommendation from me.
Game provided by Ratalaika Games.