Sometimes the deepest and most challenging digital diversions are also the simplest.
Case in point: Super Slyder from Sandlot Games. A deceptively shallow outing at first glance, this adorable little cartoon puzzler quickly reveals itself to be one of the most fiendishly diabolical outings in ages.
Meet Slyder, a googly-eyed, blue-faced blob and the hero of the adventure. His sole goal in life: Make it to the exit of over 280 mind-bending mazes in the fewest possible number of moves. (You can take as many moves as you want to do so… The only pressure here comes from a desire to beat one’s personal best.)
Play is accordingly straightforward. Just click the ever-present arrow icons or move the mouse to indicate the direction Slyder should proceed in. He’ll keep sliding that way until he butts up against a wall or object.
Mastering the game, not so much – there’s a bevy of tricks and trips (each of which can ruin your day with a single hit) just waiting to stymie aspiring geniuses.
Levels are designed in unlikely shapes (swords, bottles, the letter ‘N’). Walls are placed randomly, so you can’t just zip from one end of the stage to the other. Pits and gaps present lethal dangers. And keys must first be collected before you can open like-colored doors.
Still, these obstacles are just the beginning. A few of the other challenges you’ll face:
- Ceiling titles that randomly hide helpful or harmful objects behind them.
- Vats which can be fallen into. (Make sure someone else takes the plunge before Slyder, so they’re safe to touch.)
- Horizontal and vertical rollers, which travel in different directions, impeding your path or making it possible to access new areas.
- Tilt arrows, which send Slyder shooting off in a set direction after he hits a wall.
- Waypoints that you must activate before it’s possible to win a level.
- Spots of chewing gum, capable of stopping you right in your tracks.
But remember. Despite the simplistic visuals on display, this is a comic outing with oodles of charisma. And no tongue-in-cheek romp would be complete without its fair share of colorful personalities.
A random sample of the 9 individual characters you’ll meet and interact with during the tale:
- Boffo – A square-eyed, purple-faced glob that travels in the same direction as Slyder and acts as a buffer between him and danger. (He can be used to keep you from falling into pits, trigger vats, etc.)
- Unger – A mean, red-faced rogue who travels in the same direction as Slyder and instantly destroys you on contact.
- Reginald – Looks like a lemon with a uni-brow, and sits there grumpily blocking your way forward.
- Sparky – An electrified green sphere that disintegrates anything it touches.
Clicking on these personalities to watch them smile and bellow isn’t their only attraction, of course. You’ll also have to interact with each to emerge victorious from every stage.
Happily, should you get stuck (and believe us, you’ll be confounded often), you can always skip a level or 10 ahead.
This open-ended structure – which spills over into a lack of time constraints or move maximums – certainly robs the title of some of its urgency/difficulty, and hence overall appeal, to veteran gamers. Nonetheless, casual enthusiasts will appreciate the gesture; aggravation’s easily dissipated, since you can essentially tackle the quest how you like and at your leisure.
As an added bonus, a full-featured level editor is also included with purchase. The not inconsiderable extra it brings to the table: Infinite replay value.
Using an intuitive point-and-click system, it’s easy to quickly design scenarios and fill individualized level layouts with bonuses and baddies. Once done, you can immediately try out your own masterworks, or upload them to Sandlot’s site for others to enjoy.
Similarly, it’s also possible to download additional levels which fans just like yourself the world over have created. So even when you beat the game, plenty of new challenges await.
The lesson we all can learn from it? Don’t be fooled by a minimalist presentation or obvious play mechanics. Super Slyder is fast, fun and elegant – not to mention jam-packed with value.