Game Reviews

Steam Punks

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| Steam Punks
Steam Punks
| Steam Punks

After attempting the impossible task of capturing some Mario magic in HEAVY - sword, developer Magic Robot Studios has turned its attention to another fondly remembered Japanese platformer.

The company makes no attempt to disguise the fact that Steam Punks is inspired by SNES cult classic Mega Man X (known as Rockman X in its native Japan). But has it been any more successful in imitating its source material?

Yes, but only by a little bit.

Do you feel lucky, punk?

Steam Punks remains a slightly clunky, unwieldy 2D platformer, and that's a real shame when there are signs of such promise elsewhere.

Magic Robot Studios evidently put a lot of love into Steam Punks's, er, steampunk universe. Its world is pleasantly cohesive and, at its best, such as in the hub village, very pretty indeed.

The standard enemies you'll face are full of character, with bowler-hatted gunslingers standing alongside clockwork mechanical bats.

Steam powered

Steam Punks's basic approach to level layout is commendable too. In true Mega Man style, you can approach the six worlds in any order you like, though your steadily improving abilities go some way to determining your likely progress.

Indeed, you'll need to return at a later point to access all of the little locked away rewards hidden around each level as you acquire the relevant pieces of equipment.

Unfortunately, Steam Punks's wealth of imagination and attention hasn't quite translated into solid gameplay mechanics. Moving and jumping feels sluggish, with a floaty, treacly sense to the virtual controls.

Shooting, too, is unremarkable, with slow-moving and often ineffectual bullets.

Spanner in the works

This lack of tightness extends to the game's layout and level design. Enemies often take too many hits, or are awkwardly positioned so that you have to keep running back and forth or jumping and taking the odd pot shot until they keel over.

Some appear as though they can't be tackled unless you take some damage - at least not without a great deal of patience.

Levels, too, can feel aimless and a little slapdash, and there are a couple of unexpected insta-death drops thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, text screens are ugly and seem to take an age to dismiss.

Like the great steam-powered locomotive that opens the game, Steam Punks is lovely to look at and brilliant at evoking a sense of nostalgia. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, you can't help wanting something a little faster, sleeker, and smarter to get you where you want to be.

Steam Punks

A lot of love has gone into this Mega Man homage, as evidenced by its attractive 2D world, but the simple mechanics of running, jumping, and exploring just aren't of a high enough quality
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.