[Review] OkunoKA Madness – Nintendo Switch

Written by Derek Wright
  • Developer: Caracal Games
  • Publisher: Ignition Publishing
  • Release Date: 08/09/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Ignition Publishing

OkunoKA Madness Video Review

Introducing: OkunoKA Madness Switch Review

Platformers are the quintessential genre of gaming. It could be based on my experience with gaming, or growing up in the 90’s, but platformers were always the king of the ring. With this in mind, I have a soft spot for them, and every so often I decide to check out the new contenders in the genre. When OkunoKA Madness graced the doors of Nintendad Manor, I was intrigued. It was labeled as a “masocore platformer.” I do love some challenging platforming, but was I masochist enough to enjoy OkunoKa? Jump to the next platform and see!

No Time to Explain!

When loading up the game for the first time, I was not given much story. You are a small blue creature, Ka, who must rescue the spirits from evil’s grasp. These spirits are dark and corrupted, and only by eating them can they be cleansed upon release. (This brought a few chuckles the first time it happened). Beyond that, not much else is needed. Ka = good, everyone else = bad. The ringleader is Os, and I wasn’t aware that he was the big bad until I reached the end of the 4th world and the credits rolled.

Test Your METAL (METTLE?!)

OkunoKA’s first few levels lulled me into a sense of complacency. They were very reminiscent of Super Meat Boy’s opening stages until the element phasing was introduced. This mechanic sets OkunoKA apart from Meat Boy instantly. At first, Ka has the ability to make blue clouds turn solid, and it allows him the ability to jump, wall-jump, and dash on them. This is triggered with the L and R buttons. It was a nice addition, until two more colors were added.

Now we have an interesting dance of turning 3 sets of platforms on and off to both block incoming projectiles from enemies and allow Ka to move onto the next section. Everything here works for the most part, unless it pertains to the hitboxes. Ka dies if he even gets close to spikes or projectiles. So many frustrating deaths occurred because of this.

The rest of the control scheme is more standard fare. Ka can run, run faster, jump, wall-jump, and use his tongue to catapult himself off fish in floating bubbles. The fish catapult feels a bit random, and is a bit under-used in the main story mode, but it is another interesting addition to Ka’s repertoire of tricks. Ka wasn’t perfect though, as he felt overly floaty. There were times where it seemed he would just keep going when he shouldn’t. It’s hard to not compare it to Meat Boy, but that game featured a level of precision in control that is lacking here.

Beelzeboss

While the levels in OkunoKA can be very challenging, everyone did have a set path that would lead to victory once the trick or timing was figured out. Yet, it was the boss battles at the end of each stage that tested my patience to great extents, and even left me wanting to chuck my Switch at the TV. The final boss in particular was just un-fun. There are moments when you need to dodge certain balls of energy, and they SHOULD be deflected, but this would require the hitboxes to work correctly and not allow them to pass through solid walls.

I died a lot in this game, but the final boss and their inability to follow the rules the game had set in place made me despise it. What fun I had overcoming the puzzles was a distant memory as I died over and over again due to either the split-second margin of error on my part, or the cheating aspect of projectiles seemingly going through walls when they should have stopped.

Aside from the terrible boss battles, there is a plethora of secrets and extra content to be had. Secret levels are scattered throughout each world via portals, while extra souls are hidden in levels which unlock different characters. A new world entitled “Madness” is also available, which features even crazier levels that are still more fun than the bosses. Lastly, a Time Attack mode is present, which gives you only the levels to get your best time — no bosses here.

Visions of Madness

I wasn’t sold on the art direction at first, and it wasn’t until my wife pointed out the similarities to Rayman Legends that I began to accept it a bit more. It still wasn’t my favorite, but I could appreciate that it was trying something different. One flaw revolved around the fact that many of the items in the foreground of the stages seemed like they could be deathtraps or obstacles, but were just there to add fluff. Imagine my surprise when I casually walked on the thorns and they killed me. This caused me to be confused as to what could and couldn’t kill me.

The music in OkunoKA was lost on me, as I spent so much time focused on staying alive that I didn’t notice music was playing until I paused the game. It was fanciful during the levels. The boss fights included some hard rock tunes to pump up the atmosphere – the only redeeming quality for those battles!

Beezleboss 2: The Electric Boogaloo

While playing OkunoKA Madness in both handheld and docked, I had no issues with the framerate or any crashes. The only issue I encountered was the final boss’ projectiles seemingly having the ability to not work as they were supposed to. I hope this was just a glitch, and it was not intended to be this way.

Final Thoughts

OkunoKA Madness could have been so much. It has content – tons of it – along with replayability. It also features overly-large hitboxes, floaty controls, and boss battles made by Satan himself. The good that is presented can be quickly overshadowed by the negative experiences therein. I wanted to really like OkunoKA, but I found the greatest joy when I sat it down after beating it, knowing I would not have to play it again.

Pros

  • Tons of Content
  • Music is not bad

Cons

  • Boss Fights
  • Floaty Controls
  • Hitboxes the size of Texas

Verdict

OkunoKA Madness had the chance to be a new indie darling, but some shoddy design choices leave it as a blemish on the Switch’s game library.

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