Nowadays, time is very much of the essence. We don't have hours to spend on gaming - we have minutes, or even seconds, and we demand that developers cram as much excitement into those fleeting moments as possible.
League of Evil 2 is the perfect example of this ADHD approach to interactive digital entertainment. It's a blast-beat quick platformer delivered in slices so thin they're almost transparent.
But while the original game was all pixellated edges and aggressive retro charm, this second bite of the cherry is a smoother proposition. Refined and distilled, this is painfully difficult portable platforming at its best.Damn you, science
You race through the tiny levels as a hulking cyborg, intent on the destruction of a group of evil scientists. Each level culminates with an encounter with a bespectacled boffin, whom you get to punch into gory blobs of viscera.
Along the way, almost every platforming cliché will leap out and try to stop you. Spikes, moving platforms, swinging hammers, and various styles of cannons are all present and correct, and dodging them is a matter of split-second timing.
Soldiers, Rambo clones, ninjas, and bazooka-wielding spec-ops types will also try and thwart your progress. A single hit from their weaponry will take you out, so dispatching them quickly is usually the order of the day.
Luckily, the on-screen controls are easy to get to grips with. You can move left and right, jump, double-jump, and punch things into a fine mist. Wall-jumping is also an indispensable part of your kinetic arsenal.Rhythmic action
With these simple commands you'll traverse more than a hundred miniaturised levels, racing against the clock and, if you're brave, trying to collect the briefcase that's hidden somewhere within each one of them.
Success is all about rhythm. There's a perfect timing for each and every move you'll make, and when you get it right you'll set yourself in good stead to streak past the next obstacle in your path. A star system grades your speed, and achieving the top accolade requires lightning-fast precision play.
For those who prefer their platforming a little more sedate, an Easy mode lets you play through less taxing versions of the levels. Although stripping them of their difficulty does rather blunt their appeal, there's still an enjoyable romp to be had.Fine slices of joy
Despite its new set of shiny cartoon clothes, League of Evil 2 is every bit as old skool as its predecessor. Within its slivers of play you'll find innumerable ways to die, but also innumerable ways to scrape through unscathed.
It's that balance between life and death that the game pulls off so well. Falling to your doom still feels catastrophic, even within the tiny confines of each level, but success is a sensation weighted in gold.
Throw in online leaderboards and you'll be struggling to shave 0.1 of a second off your level time before you know what's happened to you.
The game does appear to have some stability issues, and it crashed a little too often for it to be a coincidence during my playthrough. Beyond that, League of Evil 2 is a perfectly weighted, violently tough platformer that will inflict a stranglehold on your precious seconds and minutes.
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