One look at the visuals, and it’s easy to think that Slick (80 MSP) must have started on its monochromatic way to the Game Boy circa 1989, got lost making one too many left turns when it should have gone right, took odd jobs, probably dabbled in drugs and / or prostitution (just speculation), and has somehow found its way to XBLIG, now 2012. If there is an actual history behind it, I’m unaware, though I quite like my NSFW timeline.
A decidedly-retro platformer, your hero is Mick Slick, in all his jumpy glory. You won’t get a backstory on how he got that name, but you will get 100 levels spread across five themed worlds (Sky Slicker, Sahara Slicker, etc.). I had hoped for a City Slickers reference in there somewhere, but Halcyon Softworks is not a Billy Crystal fan it seems. Understandable, but Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby? Come on. It’s a classic!
The setup is straightforward; fireballs and spikes, bad, bopping enemies and reaching the exit, good. There’s a slight stutter to Mick’s landing after every jump, giving you a crucial half-tic to touch down safely. It’s appreciated. It’s a one-hit, one life to live game, and hazards are aplenty, but you can acclimate to Slick pretty easily. That led me to believe things were going well. I was settling in for the long run.
Then I met world 1-17, and our relationship soured. This stage contained one too many ‘chokepoints’, designed for me to die and to ratchet up the frustration quickly, and in that it succeeded. Corridors of fire, spikes everywhere, and split second timing, done on repeat without the luxury of checkpoints— all my old favorite things to dread. And for the record, I’m not easily deterred. I literally threw a hundred lives into Death’s blender over three sessions trying to advance. The buzzer signaling another demise was soon all I heard.
Long story short (leaving out the rage), I eventually bested 1-17, but soon reached snags on 2-6, 2-8, 2-11… you see the pattern emerging here? You are going to die, and Slick will be responsible for it.
The controls are fine for a platformer, but they’re not quite tweaked for the precision required of a punishformer. That ‘stutter’ landing can hurt as much as it helps. Oh, and keep your finger on the jump button (a natural reflex) after a tricky sequence, you’ll see what I mean. To complicate matters, the hit detection is shit in some instances. The game pauses at the point where you die, and on more than one occasion you could clearly see I wasn’t touching an enemy or fireball, yet the game insisted I was. (A patch is in the works to correct this.)
I’d really like to tell you about the other worlds, which don’t (according to these screenshots) appear any easier, though do have some new visuals, tricks, and enemies. Looks like. I wouldn’t know, as I was stopped cold in my tracks early and often. I’m not a sniveling baby or someone that decries the difficulty in punishformers. I’m old school, I ‘get’ it, but I do believe in reasonable escalation. With 70+ levels still beyond my current nemesis, I can only imagine the horror some of you will face. You’re more than welcome to send a postcard and tell me all about it. Guess I’m sitting this adventure out.