Sideway: New York Review

By Scott Nichols - Posted Oct 26, 2011

Sideway: New York has a unique premise, but falls as flat as the graffiti art it's based on.

The Pros
  • Clever puzzles involving shifts of perspective.
  • Catchy hip-hop soundtrack.
The Cons
  • Frustrating camera angles and combat.
  • The urban theme feels flat.

Sideway: New York Review:

Once there was a time when all a developer had to do for a platformer to stand out was take an animal and add a hint of attitude. Nowadays it isn’t so easy. With games going after a variety of gameplay hooks from time manipulation to somber monochrome puzzle solving. Then there are games like Sideway: New York, which is caught squarely between the two extremes. Nox, the game’s graffiti artist hero certainly has the attitude to match classic platformer mascots, but can this painted platformer still turn heads?  

Sideway: new York

The Word On The Street

Sideway transports players to the 2D world of graffiti art. Nox can run along any flat surface, using drainpipes and windowpanes as he leaps across buildings and billboards. Nox learns new abilities constantly, allowing him to slide, double jump and swing to new areas. The controls may take some getting used to though, with jumping having a peculiar floaty quality that doesn’t match some of the precise platforming required.

When at its best, Sideway offers unique environmental puzzles to take advantage of its combination of 2D and 3D levels. For example, Nox can jump to a building’s roof from different sides in order to change the direction of gravity. Unfortunately, these puzzles are few and far between. More often the 3D world leads to awkward camera angles and enemies hidden around corners. A generous checkpoint system means that death never sets you back too far, but that doesn’t come as much comfort when a camera angle obstructs your view.

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An Urban Jungle

It’s clear that Sideway is aiming for an urban hip-hop vibe. However, it’s equally clear that this is the watered down view of hip-hop culture tailored for a suburbanite audience. There is a general lack of authenticity, which probably isn’t helped by the excessive Skull Candy sponsorship logos throughout the game. The counter-culture mentality that street art spawns from is entirely absent. Even among the dozen or so abilities Nox acquires, only one actually involves tagging the level with graffiti.

When playing Sidway: New York, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Exit Through the Gift Shop’s Mr. Brainwash. It’s an attempt that tries far too hard to blatantly commercialize what was never intended to be commercial. So much of Sideway’s appeal and personality rests on the urban graffiti theme, so it hurts the overall experience when that theme to comes across as artificial.

Sideway: new York

Watching Paint Dry

Sideway: New York is the victim of wasted potential more than anything else. It’s a competent and enjoyable platformer, but fails to capitalize on its premise. In the end, it shares its fate with the mascot platformers of yesteryear, fading into the greater gaming landscape.