Some athletes like to say that the greatest opponent you’ll ever face is yourself.

It's completely true - here I am, actively goading ghost images of my character in Mos Speedrun, laughing as they plow foolishly into a zombie, despite the fact they’re actually my previous dismal efforts at completing a level.

Mos Speedrun may be just a straightforward platformer at first glance, but there’s a competitive spirit running through the game that distinguishes it from the leagues of chiptune/pixel-art competitors.

Look sharp

It has to be said, though, that first impressions aren’t exactly stunning. Whereas the pixel-art style packs enough character to make it charming, the characters look like they’ve been drawn in paint.

I’m still not sure what on earth the main character is supposed to be - beetle, ladybug, a Mexican wrestler - and that’s after a good number of hours with the game.

First impressions aren’t helped by the hateful default control scheme, which relies on pressing both sides of the screen to jump and frankly doesn’t work. Thankfully, the alternative - a typical three virtual button setup - works well and is tight enough to be reliable.

Play hard

This reliability is in part down to the simplicity of the gameplay. There’s no double-jumping, wall hops, or speed boosting here - you just hold the 'jump' button down to go higher and press 'left' and 'right' to go, well, you know.

The levels, too, feel fairer than most of the game’s contemporaries, eschewing ridiculously harsh time limits and sudden plummets into spike traps in favour of a gentler learning curve.

That’s not to say Mos Speedrun is easy. You die a lot during the 25 levels on offer, either through sheer ambition in going for coins that litter each stage or whilst rushing to complete a level in order to beat your best time.

Die trying

The pain of restarting the same level is massively reduced thanks to the aforementioned ghost images of your previous attempts. Mos Speedrun layers each attempt on top of the last as you play, transforming a simple platformer into a compulsive race against yourself.

This is especially true when there are ten or 20 of you all racing against each other, each one dropping off with a mistake until you’re left alone, scared and confused in a new section of the level, knowing that one false move will make you merely just another ghost for a future you to beat.

It’s because of this and the tough-but-fair gameplay that Mos Speedrun succeeds in the rapidly crowded genre. While it may not be the harshest or most attractive opponent you’ll ever face, it’s certainly one of the most entertaining.