Electronic Super Joy: Groove City is a weird game. The plot involves a giant robot stripper that loses her laser nipples, and you're trying to get them back so she stops destroying Groove City in a resulting fit of rage. The story matters very little beyond setup purposes, as the majority of the dialogue is delivered through easy-to-miss text bubbles when you pass by stationary characters. Also, since they usually just mutter goofy things anyway, commonly sexual innuendos, it's not exactly imperative that you slow down to follow along. It's a bunch of ridiculousness for the sake of being ridiculous, and you'll either find it entertaining or you'll ignore it and keep focused on the platforming perils ahead.
That brings us to what is possibly the most striking thing about Groove City: it's a platformer with a mature rating. That might not seem to be the case when it comes to analysing the visual presentation - which contains very few hints at the subject matter - but rather the absurd plot, random bits of crude dialogue and sexual moaning that accompanies respawns means this is certainly not a game that's intended for kids. Fortunately, if you don't have the luxury of gaming in a child-free environment, there is a PG mode that subdues the sexuality.
Once the adventure begins, you'll seamlessly transition from one stage to the next without setting foot in an overworld. In contrast to a steep challenge and the unconventional theme, this is mechanically a very simple platformer, requiring only directional inputs and a jump button. These basic moves will be used to do a whole bunch of precision platforming while you avoid enemies and homing missiles that chase you relentlessly. Frequent checkpoints mean that, with the right determination, it's never too tough to make some sort of progress, but it's assuredly far from easy, and trying to collect all the stars and unearth hidden areas will take much, much greater skill. If you're a fan of Super Meat Boy, 1001 Spikes, and/or CloudBerry Kingdom, you'll probably be a fan of what's here. The game doesn't do anything all that remarkable on a mechanical level, but what it does is tight and reliable, just the way a tough-as-nails platformer ought to be.
The highlight of the package would have to be the combination of upbeat electronic music and stimulating visual presentation. The silhouetted environments lay over a backdrop of vibrant colours, and other effects do their best to put you in a trance while you're playing. It's decidedly simple but artistic at the same time; yet as the outlines of the enemies can sometimes blend in with their surroundings, some minor gameplay issues can arise. There are also friendlies located about, and when you're hauling ass along a dangerous path it's not uncommon to have some reluctance in your jumps when you question whether the character you're about to land near is friend of foe. Neither of these problems occur regularly enough to cause serious scares, but they're problems nonetheless.
The most significant misstep, in our eyes, is the overuse of homing missiles in the second half of the game. These are the only hazards that don't stick to a clear and set movement pattern, and they can quickly destroy the cadence of a level's design. This is a game that's at its very best when your speed and movements feel like they're matching the liveliness of the pulsing music, and severing that connection, that feeling of unity between you and what you're playing, can occasionally rip you out of the experience. Thankfully, what Groove City brings to the table is still largely enjoyable, despite the overreliance on a mechanic that doesn't always feel welcome.
Had the game featured a longer runtime, our prior criticism about the homing missiles probably wouldn't be as significant. Because a playthrough shouldn't take a platforming veteran longer than an hour or two max, there's not a lot of time or scope for the mechanics to breathe, roll out, or gradually be explored. Basically, just when Groove City gets grooving, it ends; though it should be said that the amount of content is respectable when compared to the price tag. There are a handful of achievements to unlock and speedrun options to fool with if that's your thing, and those might help to extend the life of the package a little bit. What's here is polished, challenging and fun, there's no doubt about that; yet the bite-sized length, coupled with our previous concerns, keep Groove City from feeling like an essential purchase.
Definitely consider it if you're the kind of person that thirsts for platformers in their life. If that doesn't pertain to you, then you likely won't find this game to be as electric as others do.
Silly, challenging and tightly-tuned, Electronic Super Joy: Groove City serves up the kind of moves that platforming diehards will likely eat up. That said, there are some shortcomings that keep it from being a bona-fide hit - nevertheless, if you're in search of a bite-sized snack to tide you over until the next big release on your calendar, then this is worth a dip. It's not as substantial and varied as similar games in the genre, like 1001 Spikes and CloudBerry Kingdom, but it is rewarding; the combination of excellent soundtrack and flashy visuals make it worth checking out.