When I play very difficult games, parts of my body involuntarily tighten and seize at particularly tricky moments.
Wave Wave is absolutely a leg clencher.
It's a brutally hard test of endurance, patience, and raw gaming skill, with presentation that is strong, stylish, but not wholly original. If you think yourself a fan of hardcore games, as I do, you're going to love it, as I did.
The gameplay is deceptively simple to describe: you control a line moving forward automatically, and must avoid a triangular landscape, with the object being (in the Infinity and Repeater modes) to survive for as long as possible.
In another mode - named Galaxy - you must avoid obstacles that lie in your path. These are all randomly generated environments, but the specially constructed Levels mode contains set challenges to overcome.
There's a power-up to collect which slows down time, and if you wiggle the line you're in control of quickly enough then you enter a state that artificially adds to the timer. There's a boss of sorts, too, which you have to tap quickly to destroy.
Control is straightforward. You tap and hold the screen to force the line to ascend, and when you let go you'll find your line descending automatically.
Sounds easy, but then it wouldn't be 'a leg clencher' if that were the case.
Even on the easiest modes, the pace at which your line moves is considerable, and the margin for error is small. When you start ramping up the level from Wave, through to Waves, Wavier, Waviest, Wave Wave, and beyond, you find yourself slamming into wall after wall of preposterous difficulty.
Each mode has its own take on the basic formula. Infinity is endless and endlessly changing its landscape, and the sub-modes for Infinity change things up further. Random Infinity inverts, stretches, and turns the field of play to keep you on your toes, while Rotator Infinity continually spins the playfield.
Repeater is another challenge altogether. The pattern of the environment loops, testing how long you can repeat the same sequence of inputs before failure. Most modes come with a two-player option, too, played on the same device, dividing screens and friendships in twain.
The main challenge, though, is a personal one. Once you hit 15 seconds or more, the pressure is on, and you'd best keep cool if you want to survive. When a notification pings to tell you you've just hit your personal best, Wave Wave becomes just about as intense a gaming experience as you can get.
The game's unique visuals and energetic soundtrack reward your persistence with graphical splendour and auditory excellence. Mostly composed of triangles, Wave Wave's in-game presentation is off-kilter and awkward and distinct, while its menus are clean and quick and responsive.
Its soundtrack seems to have been composed on a broken Mega Drive, spitting out a dirty, crunchy, chiptune dirge that smashes against your skull until you let it in, and then lodges itself in your subconscious.
Wave Wave is definitely inspired by Super Hexagon, both in its presentation and its gameplay. In fact, it feels so much like that game at times that I had to check it wasn't actually made by Terry Cavanagh. (It isn't.)
Wave Wave is excellent, basically, and if you're the sort who gets off on testing your hand-eye coordination to its limits, then you should buy it.
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