Developer Michael Todd had a high water mark to live up to with Groove City. As a follow up of sorts to Electronic Super Joy, the burden falls on Todd to create a game that is just as compelling and rewarding as its predecessor. Being a platformer means that Groove City will live or die based on its core mechanics. Movement speed, difficulty curve, and level design are all of paramount importance. Luckily, Groove City absolutely nails these.

The aesthetic can accurately be described as a cross between the silhouetted artwork of Limbo and the rave scene of the late nineties. Everything in the foreground is made of beautifully hand crafted drawn black pixel art. Backgrounds consist of a handful of bright colors punctuated by an assortment of vector artwork that moves in time with the music. The minimalistic palette not only makes the player character pop of the screen, it gives every level with a unique feel. Fantastic artwork aside, its the musical suite that really ends up stealing the show. Every single track is great and you’ll find yourself just stopping to listen to the music.

Unfortunately, much of the challenge in the game’s later levels felt artificial by way of having the checkpoints be further spaced out. Some players will also be miffed by total amount of content. The thirteen levels can be completed in a few hours, and unless you are obsessed with achievements, there isn’t much reason to replay the game. There’s also an overall lack of variety to the experience.

While it may not be an especially novel experience, Groove City is still a blast to play. The game is unashamedly brutal and features an awesome art style, a great soundtrack, and a quirky sense of humor thrown in for good measure. Anyone who enjoyed the steep difficulty curve of old-school games shouldn’t miss out on this one.

Tyler Curran is someone who fondly remembers scribbling out notes about games back when he first learned to write. Who knew design documents scrawled in crayon would lead to him becoming a game design major?