After playing hundreds of colourful platform games at an incredibly young age, it’s only natural that I’d be pretty good at jumping my way to the goal. I may not be able to score a perfect headshot in Call of Duty or take a corner without spinning out in Gran Turismo, but if a plumber needs to rescue a princess I’m the man for the job. That doesn’t mean there aren’t games in the genre that make me doubt my abilities, and with the dawn of masocore platformers I got to truly test my abilities and patience. Patience is key in OkunoKA Madness, so anyone with a history of controller throwing may want to leave their Switch at the door.
You won’t find hours of story setting up your adventures as the titular Ka, as your task is to guide our blue hero to the tasty little monster at the end of the stage. As you may expect this is easier said than done, with lasers, spikes and rockets all ready to end your perfect run. Armed with only the ability to jump and dash, and with one hit spelling death for our hero, evasion is the name of the game in OkunoKA Madness.
Ka controls exceptionally well, with all the precision you’ll need to navigate the death traps in your path. Bouncing from wall to wall to platform feels incredibly fluid, and the ability to dash means you’ll be able to take the stages at breakneck speed when the situation calls for it. Switching between running and walking can be the difference between life and death, as small subtle movements just aren’t possible when dashing.
Once you’ve become accustomed to manoeuvring through spikes and enemies, OkunoKA Madness adds the ability to turn certain platforms on and off with the shoulder buttons. Eventually you’ll have 3 colours of platform that you’ll be able to cycle through, making one of them solid and the others entirely intangible. Not only can these platforms be used to jump off of, but they’ll also block any lasers or rockets coming you’re way. Using the coloured barriers to make your way to the goal and block any incoming threats takes some practice, especially when combined with the tricky platforming and wall jumping required to reach the goal.
In even the earliest stages, it’s more than likely that you’ll be dying and retrying a lot. Thanks to the almost instant restart times, you’ll have very little time to mourn the loss of your previous attempt and can jump straight back into the action. The difficulty only gets harder as you journey through the games’ 4 worlds, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to rack up 50 deaths on a particularly tough level in Hell.
Each of the worlds end with a boss fight, which are without question the toughest stages in the whole of OkunoKA Madness. These battles will require you to memorise an exact attack pattern to avoid all of the giant machine’s offensive maneuvers, and take advantage of your coloured walls to block incoming projectiles. Dealing with these memory based challenges was the closest I got to frustrated during my time with the game, as one wrong move will mean starting a minute of precision movements all over again.
Once you’ve dispatched the final boss, you’ll find plenty of extra challenging content to sink your masocore teeth into. The bonus Madness mode contains a final extra challenging world just waiting to dispatch Ka in a variety of ways. Although tough, I found these stages easier to beat than some of the main game by simply rushing to the end without thinking. There’s also a time trial mode that sees you trying to beat an entire world in as short a time as possible, which is perfect for wannabe speed runners.
If you really want to test yourself, there are pink monsters hidden in particularly treacherous parts of the levels to collect. Finding these and getting S ranks for swift completion of stages will unlock extra characters. These characters aren’t just skins for Ka, and completely change the way he controls. There’s a lizard that sticks to walls when wall jumping, and a spaceman that moves with terrifying speed and plenty of others to try out.
It’s easy to focus on the pure platforming while making your way through the hazards of OkunoKA Madness, but it’s worth taking a moment to take in the jaw droppingly beautiful art design. The backgrounds look like paintings, and the stages have some really detailed design with intricate brick work on buildings with thorns wrapped around the walls.
OkunoKA Madness is a great platform game for those who can handle the difficulty. It’s rarely more frustrating than challenging, and is packed full of content for those looking for even more punishment. With a little bit of patience, you’ll find a lot to love on your adventure with Ka.
Ka controls really well
The coloured walls are a unique and fun mechanic
A perfect level of challenge for fans of tough platforming
Tons of extra content to unlock
Bosses can get frustrating when memorising long attack patterns
Madness mode isn't as enjoyable as the main game