We're living through a golden age of 2D platform gaming. Revisionist, retro-tinged new classics can be found in every corner of the gaming world, from smartphone to top-end console.
Many thought the genre would be killed by polygons and an extra dimension, but there's something about performing a pixel-perfect side-on leap that appeals to gamers old and new.
The latest addition to this resurrected genre is CheeseMan. It's a tricky, hyperactive love letter to the past and the present, featuring a spectacular soundtrack and some really well-designed levels.Not cheesy at all
You play either as the titular dairy superhero or as his love interest Cheesette, and you hurl yourself through 40 levels of hard-as-nails platforming action. Think Super Meat Boy, but with cheese. Indeed, Team Meat is thanked in the opening credits, and some of their characters make an appearance in the game.
You control your nightmare-inducing snack on legs with big on-screen buttons. 'Left' and 'right' for left and right, and 'jump' for jump. They're well-spaced, out of the way of any important action, and large enough to accommodate even the burliest of digits.
Tapping 'jump' twice unleashes a double-jump, as you'd expect, and CheeseMan and Cheesette are both capable of performing gravity-defying wall jumps too.
Jumping a cheddar gorge
Developed using the Game Salad tool, the levels come in neat enough chunks to balance the time constraints of gaming on the go and the inherent urge the game creates to play for just a little bit longer. In an average session you'll be beset by spikes, circular saws, gaping chasms, projectile-spewing pipes, and crumbly platforms that disappear beneath your cheesy feet.
Power-up huts change your character into a wall-smashing behemoth, letting you reach previously inaccessible areas before slipping into another hut to change back to your normal self. There are boss battles, too, complete with pattern-recognition and the sort of joyous infuriation only the best games can produce.
CheeseMan isn't without its problems. The level design is good, but it's not great, and a cruel streak runs throughout, slicing and crushing unwary players into an early grave. It's not particularly original, either, laying on the tropes of nu-platforming thick and fast.
Cheesed to meet you
Beyond those niggles, there lies a game that sits snugly in the higher echelons of a genre reborn. CheeseMan knows exactly what it is - a slick and pure platformer - and it doesn't try to be anything other than that.
Everything it does is tight and impressive, from its overall look to the pumping tunes that play in the background of every level. This is a package free of cynicism, built in the image of others, and built really rather well.
Jumping around like an idiot is a rewarding experience, and that's something that the best platformers understand. CheeseMan is a game that revels in its genre. This is a tough, no-nonsense leap-'em-up, with a keen eye, and ear, for what it is that makes gamers tick.