All these buttons everywhere yet only two to press.
Necrosphere is a brutally-difficult 2D metroidvania platformer. All of the action takes place within a labyrinthine world that sees you return to old areas after acquiring new power-ups. One of the selling points as written on the eShop is that this is a game you can control “WITH ONLY TWO BUTTONS!” And unfortunately, you cannot change the control scheme in any way. There is a button to move right and one to move left, and these same buttons are also used to perform special actions that you unlock. While the attempt at creating simple controls is admirable, in practice the precise inputs and movements needed to progress through the game cannot be performed without constant frustration and countless deaths.
The backstory centers on Agent Terry Cooper, who has died in the line of duty and been transported to the Necrosphere, but he learns from messages in the world that he can return to the living world if he can escape. In Terry’s way are fireballs, zombies, spikes, and other things that want to kill you over and over again.Hidden throughout the multiple zones of the Necrosphere maze are 20 DVDs to collect, and grabbing 5 of them unlocks a special bonus game called Terry’s Dream, but more on that later.
Because you cannot jump, air bubbles are placed in specific locations that pop you up into the air when you run into or land on them. Some of these bubbles disappear temporarily after you pop them. The first power-up you acquire is a ballet outfit that allows you to dash forward, even in mid-air, and this can be used to cross spike pits and reach new areas. The problem is that to activate the dash, you have to double tap the A button to go right, or the L button to go left. What may sound like a simple task becomes a test of patience since you are pressing a button already assigned to another command, and so the accuracy and precision of the dash suffer for it. The third power-up is a jetpack that is activated by pressing the A and L buttons at the same time, and again the two-button scheme isn’t conducive to making split-second inputs, lining up challenging jumps, and performing specific movements.
On the positive side, the stages are bright and full of color, and the pixelated aesthetic works well for the type of game that Necrosphere is. Fairly-frequent checkpoints allow you to retry segments over and over again in rapid succession, and you will need to get used to this. However, there are a few places where the checkpoints are more sparse, which can be frustrating. Those who love a serious challenge and simple gameplay may find a satisfying experience here.
Necrosphere Deluxe is a game that I want to like a lot more, and it starts off promising, but the innovative controls aren’t worth the hassle that they bring. It would be test enough if you could run, dash, and rocket boost up using separate button inputs, but I found myself fighting the control scheme more than the actual obstacles in the game. Terry’s Dream is a nice bit of ultra-challenging side content, but it’s only for the bravest of players as your progress isn’t saved like it is in the base game. Given the two-button controls, it would have been nice to at least be able to map the buttons in a specific way. As it is, only masochists need apply for this one. I’m ready to tap out.