Now out as a cross-buy title on Playstation 4 and the Playstation Vita after last year’s Nintendo Switch release, League of Evil is a retro/minimalist platformer that we playtested on Sony’s handheld for this review.
League of Evil was originally released on iOS back in 2011, to a considerable amount of critical acclaim. I never played any of the earlier versions, but wonder how well I would have fared without ‘regular’ (thumbstick/button) controls. Probably not at that well, since this is a challenging 2D platformer with short levels – a little bit like Super Meat Boy but a lot more rough around the edges.
The game’s plot revolves around you going up against the league of evil, a band of evil scientists the world would be better off without. In every level, you reach the end by getting to one of the scientists and punching them in the face – yes, that’s about the extent of it. There are story references at regular intervals, but League of Evil really is just about jumping into the game’s many short levels and getting right to the platforming.
The hero, who you control, can jump and double-jump, as well as dash and punch. Dashing can be done in mid-air as well, which you’ll need to overcome certain obstacles. In addition, you can perform wall-jumps and slide down walls – gameplay that’s going to be instantly familiar if you’ve played Super Meat Boy. If you haven’t – it’s one of the best platformers you can get on the Vita, and you might already own it if you’re a Plus subscriber.
League of Evil’s visuals are slightly more zoomed in than Super Meat Boy’s, allowing for larger sprites but showing you less of the level at any given point. The art design is very “retro” though, so despite the more zoomed in look you’re not seeing a ton of detail and will be jumping around tons of squares and surfaces with 90 degree edges. It’s a look that makes for plenty of contrast though, which helps in timing your jumps even if it means that backdrops don’t look very exciting. On the audio front, League of Evil has a nice chiptune soundtrack that goes well with its visual style.
Speaking of timing your jumps – League of Evil’s controls are functional, but don’t feel as tight as those in other challenging platformers – perhaps a result of the game’s mobile origins. This can result in a few frustrating deaths, especially if you’re a completionist and decide to go for the extra suitcase in each level. You’ll probably also attribute some of the deaths to so-so level design, and you’d be right. League of Evil’s levels aren’t as inspired and creative as Super Meat Boy’s, even though they manage to scratch a lot of the same itch.
If you haven’t had enough of the game after the pretty lengthy campaign (unless you’re a master at this type of game, which I’m not), there is also a level editor available that allows you to create and play user-made challenges. I didn’t play around with it much, but it’s a nice addition to a game that’s available for less than five dollars/euros. It’s an excellent price point for a game that’s clearly inspired by Super Meat Boy, gets the basics right, but just isn’t as good as its inspiration in a few ways.