Irish-based developer Open Emotion Studios has become quite well known in the PSP minis space with their prior releases of Mad Blocker Alpha and Ninjamurai earlier this year. With two games now under their belt they have a brand-new title, Revoltin' Youth, which like their previous releases, features a radically different style of gameplay from what came before. Those who have read our previous Open Emotion Studio reviews know that the developer's previous efforts were enjoyable but had their own faulting points - does Revoltin' Youth surpass this or is it more of the same?
Like Mad Blocker Alpha, Revoltin' Youth's story is serviceable but isn't the main focus of the game. There's a evil CEO that's taking over the world by controlling the minds of people to use them as slave labour. Cue a three-member ragtag group of heroes that set out to break the CEO's control over the people and restore normalcy to the world.
The first playable character, Badger, has the ability to use his trusty spray can to temporarily freeze enemies or create a glider to transport him across chasms found in some of the game's levels. The second playable character, Cole has the highest health and can defeat enemies, but at the cost of being the slowest character in the game. Finally, the third character Kamiko can scale specially-marked walls and has the best jump and movement abilities. However, the cost is having the lowest health of all three of the characters. All in all the story really only serves to provide a basis for exploring the game's various stages but it does have a certain bit of charm to it without getting in the player's way.
The gameplay for Revoltin' Youth is very similar to older titles such as The Lost Vikings, having the player switch control between the three playable characters in an effort to reach the end of the stage intact. Each stage is its own puzzle as players will have to switch between the characters multiple times to solve the intricate puzzles the game provides. The only issue with this is that Revoltin' Youth goes about this in the wrong way due to a number of critical faults that bring down the experience.
The first issue is that the camera viewpoint is focused too tightly on the characters, leading to multiple instances where one of the characters will fall off a ledge or accidentally run into an waiting enemy. Imagine if Super Mario World gave you half of the view that was visible and didn't move the screen as you walked, only moving it when you hugged the right side of the screen. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Cole's movement is ploddingly slow and the game provides no way for him to move faster, which creates another issue: the game's checkpoint system.
The controls for all of the characters also feel somewhat disjoint as there's a slight delay between the button input and the corresponding action due to the sprite-based approach Open Emotion Studios went for. There are also a few odd bugs along the way, such as clipping through objects and getting stuck in the level complete menu. But these issues didn't always occur so some players might be lucky enough to not run into these issues when they play the game.
After completing the initial tutorial levels the game generally has a checkpoint halfway through the level which revives any fallen characters who perished along the way. Now, most players would assume that if you reached the checkpoint the revived characters would appear next to you. Alas, the game revives them back at the start of the stage so if you needed one of the non-fallen characters to reach that point you'll have to unwind the puzzle all over again to get them across as the game only seems to revive them mid-way if they actually reached the checkpoint. A lot of the later stages are quite long to boot so to only have a one or a few checkpoints in each stage only serves to frustrate the player due to the camera issues mentioned earlier which provides a plethora of cheap deaths until the player learns to anticipate them.
One positive aspect of the game, however, is the art style and the chiptune-inspired music. Unlike Mad Blocker Alpha's watercolour style and Ninjamurai's stylish-but-barren style, Revoltin' Youth features a unique colorful sprite-based art style which doesn't have the issues of getting in the way like Ninjamurai did but has more of unique style than the one featured in Mad Blocker Alpha. The music is surreally 8-bit and while not entirely memorable is still catchy and un-nerve grating to the player. This is one aspect of Revoltin' Youth that Open Emotion Studios improved ten-fold over their previous attempts.
Revoltin' Youth is an inherently flawed title. Open Emotion Studios clearly learned a lot from their previous attempts but there's still the clear feeling that they didn't spend the time to fully test for glitches or refine the game's gameplay aspects. The game feels 8-bit, but it doesn't mean it has to feel 8-bit as video games surpassed those limitations long ago. If you loved the developer's previous titles you'll most likely enjoy Revoltin' Youth but everyone else should exercise some caution as the game's negatives outweigh its positives.
|An improvement over Ninjamurai.|
|Decent character choices.|
|Cool chiptune music.|
|Camera isn't the best.|
|Numerous bugs plague the experience.|
|Checkpointing system feels broken.|