I always forget that players’ abilities vary, and what could be tough for me will be easy for others. However, I like to think I’m pretty average, so my thought process and skills aren’t too far off the mark. This theory about ease and difficulty forms the core concept of Pukan Bye-Bye! and the game’s description mocks you in a tongue-in-cheek way.
Developed by Artalasky and published by ChiliDog Interactive, this is a retro side-scrolling platform title. Set across an array of levels, players must overcome obstacles, traps, and their own rage to progress. It is deceptively simple and made me squeal repeatedly.
Pukan Bye-Bye! is horribly tough.
I don’t care if I sound like a petulant child, but Pukan Bye-Bye! is bloody horrible to play. I hate it, hate it, hate it! Yet, I couldn’t put it down. Like OkunoKA Madness or Super Meat Boy, this has a distinct sadomasochistic undertone. You’ll die repeatedly, fail stage after stage, and scream profanities, yet you’ll desperately want to get the protagonist to the finish line.
The gameplay doesn’t offer anything more than its peers, yet it still stands out. The combination of traps, brutality, and stage design makes it a rewarding and cathartic experience. On the surface, each level looks easy to finish. You scan the environment, plan your route, and begin your journey. Yet, things are rarely this straightforward and traps, monsters, and illusions all lie in wait.
Drip-fed mechanics and a test of memory and reactions.
What I loved about the difficulty curve within Pukan Bye-Bye! was the drip-fed mechanics. Not only did this balance out the difficulty, but every five levels, new monsters or traps were added to the mix. The new elements always took you by surprise and were a great way of keeping the action fresh.
Alongside these new elements, the developers tested your memory recall and reactions. Every stage remains the same, no matter how many attempts you made to overcome them. This forces you to learn the pitfalls and finer details of each level. Moreover, you must leap gaps, land millimetres from spikes, and hit moving platforms. It’s hellish, tough, and will test the hardiest of players.
Pukan Bye-Bye! is a stylish indie title.
Many developers want their game to stand out and Pukan Bye-Bye! has achieved this. Using contrasting colours and some monochromatic imagery, the simple minimalist approach is nice to look at. I admired the retro aesthetics, the clean-cut UI, and the interesting stage design. The movement of the protagonist and traps were clunky, but this added to its dated charms.
Where it falls short, however, is its lack of music. Much of the action is set to silence, and this gives off a flat vibe. Yes, there are some basic sound effects but these barely mask the lack of high-energy tunes. I had an expectation of 80s synth-inspired songs, so to get nothing was disappointing.
In a game all about reactions and precision, you’d expect the controls to be on point. Sadly, you die repeatedly thanks to the unresponsive controls. You’ll move, try to jump, and fall to your death. This happens too much to be user error, and it makes a tough game much harder. Subsequently, many gamers will quit without playing it thoroughly. Other than the movement issues, the rest of the layout is well-designed, straightforward, and easy to understand.
Hardcore games rely on a stubborn player base that is determined to battle through the pain. Its sheer brutality vastly increases its longevity and only the toughest of players will keep playing. Moreover, the necessity to be pinpoint accurate and agile as a ninja separates the wheat from the chaff. Furthermore, its replay value is reliant on blind determination rather than any form of enjoyment.
Though it made me angry, I liked the challenge, but; it wasn’t perfect. You collect coins on every stage and these have no bearing on the game. Also, there is no speedrun option and this could easily have been incorporated. If the developers had implemented either of these ideas, it would have exponentially improved longevity.
Pukan Bye-Bye! needs a tweak.
Much of the action is perfectly serviceable and is enjoyable and challenging. However, its shortcomings leave much to be desired. The controls are unnecessarily frustrating, and the collectables are pointless. Yet, the graphics are good, the level designs are interesting, and the drip-fed mechanics keep you focused. There is no doubt that Pukan Bye-Bye! will enrage you, but this is one of its alluring charms. I liked it in spite of its faults and recommend you to buy it here! Study the levels, remember every trap, and make it to the portal alive!