I’ve always been a bit of a night person. Part of that is my work schedule, but another side is more personal; I think the Sun is kind of a dick to People, and I refuse to support its policies any more than I already have to. Yeah, it’s responsible for all life as we know it, and it does a good job of keeping us warm, but let’s look at the flipside.
For one, too much of it isn’t a good thing. Ever heard of skin cancer? Dry farmland? The bastard doesn’t care. It’s indiscriminate with its rays. Also, let’s not forget that its supposedly ‘all-powerful’ abilities are finite. One day (granted, that’s going to be billions of years from now), it’s going to start dying and get really fat, scorching our surface and eventually swallowing us up. Does that sound like a friend to you? And if you need more evidence, the Sun will also steal your girlfriend. Yeah. Such is the story behind Parkza ($1.00).
Based on retro hits like Buster Bros. (or Pang, to non-U.S. readers) and Oops Up!, Parkza drops the whole ‘world under siege by giant balls’ routine and tries to make it a more human. So yeah, the Sun— or Suns, as it were— take your girl right in the middle of a lovely picnic, and you’re tasked with getting her back. How are you going to do that? By shooting a bunch of bouncing Suns and breaking them down into tinier pieces, all while avoiding getting hit by them, of course.
You know that’s going to be easier said than done, and using a harpoon gun (…I’m …I’m assuming that’s what it is) that only fires straight up seems like it would be ineffective. Still, it gets the job done, albeit in a roundabout way, as the game’s core theme is that of subtraction. Larger suns will split into smaller suns, making harder (and more numerous) targets. Naturally, your harpoon gun(?) works on a delay, with you unable to fire again until you’ve hit a target or it strikes the stage’s ceiling. Lucky for you, suns break apart with direct or indirect hits, allowing some breathing room for bad aim.
A lot like Space Invaders, levels typically have obstructions that you must fire past or otherwise work around. Some of these barriers wear away as you fire at them, but you’ll also be required to climb / jump over other platforms, both in an effort to chase down enemies and avoid a traffic jam of miniature suns. To aid you in your quest, there’s a host of powerups (none of them explained; you’ll learn on the job) that will occasionally drop from split enemies. And you will need them. With ‘one-hit death’ rules firmly in place, you’ll have to hope for a spare shield and do a fair amount of retro parkour.
Though that brand of light platforming and heavier difficulty makes Parkza show its age, and it won’t be pretty. Save for the local co-op (or up to four in a ‘Deathmatch’ mode), which might help lessen the burden, you’ll be relying purely on your skill and expert timing to match the game’s tougher (I would say unforgiving) later rounds and still beat the clock. Worse, you’ll have to play a perfect run— without dying— in each hub world in order to continue from that point on after death, upping the potential frustration.
In the case of Parkza, that frustration might be more trouble than its worth. As a homage to the previously-mentioned titles above, it’s the ideal substitute for those raised on old school difficulty and studied perfection, without the hassle of emulators. But for those hoping for a retro idea with a more modern feel, you should look elsewhere.