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Onion Assault is a short and snappy 2D platformer by the team who brought us the classic Gunman Clive, Super Punch Patrol and Mechstermination Force.

As with their previous releases, Onion Assault is a thoughtfully-crafted love letter to great games of yore. This time, Super Mario Bros. 2 is firmly under the spotlight, as the main hook of Onion Assault is the same; lift objects (usually the titular Onions) and enemies and then throw them around to reach the end of a level.

Switches can be flicked by throwing objects at them
Switches can be flicked by throwing objects at them

You’re introduced to the simple controls in the first stage, and you’ll immediately feel the care that’s gone into making sure the basics have been nailed. Controls are responsive and the act of throwing onions is fun all by itself. Also found in the first level are enemies, of which you’ll see a decent variety from start to finish. As with Mario Bros. 2, jumping on enemies does nothing to them (or to you), so from here you can either pick them up and throw them or let them take you for a ride.

It is simple gameplay, but the team at Hörberg Productions plays with this in a very Nintendo fashion throughout the game’s 16 stages.

The requisite snow levels look great
The requisite snow levels look great

Each level introduces a new spin or variation on the established mechanics, but never overcomplicates the action. One of the earliest examples you’ll encounter is a flying onion which acts like a single-use Propeller Mushroom from New. Super Mario Bros.. This is explained in an easy-to-understand manner and is then used in increasingly difficult platforming challenges. This never distracts from the core gameplay and only adds. Varied enemy designs can also provide new gimmicks, with jumping enemies enabling you to reach higher places, or a flying one allowing you to make it to a previously inaccessible Large Coin (of which 3 are available to collect in every level).

The stages themselves have great, tight design. Some will challenge you to be patient, others will require quick reflexes and another batch will demand precision platforming. This isn’t Nintendo Hard, but it is a challenging game despite what its 2-to-3-hour runtime may suggest. Boss encounters manage to strike a fine balance between being difficult and also enjoyable, as they all have their own unique ways of being beaten.

Classic huge screen-filling bosses are the order of the day
Classic huge screen-filling bosses are the order of the day

As with classic platformers, dying is all part of the discovery, so you will likely die a good number of times. Thankfully, loading times are fast in Onion Assault, so once you die, you immediately respawn at the most recent checkpoint - assuming you have any lives left. Eschewing the modern thinking of lives not being relevant, you’ll be rewarded with an extra life for every 50 regular coins you collect. If you run out of lives, you will be dropped back onto the bright and cheery world map, forcing you to retry the level from the beginning.

Visually speaking, stages have a great variety, with the action taking place in caves, snowy plains, grassy areas and more. In particular, the nighttime stage looks especially nice. The graphical style may not stand out as much as Gunman Clive’s, but it does still have its own identity. It is bright and crisp and runs at a solid 60fps. Adding to the character, the backgrounds and enemies bop along to the jaunty background music that pleasantly accompanies you during the adventure, matching the overall tone well.

At a glance...

Developer: Hörberg Productions   Genre: 2D Platformer   Price: £7.19   File Size: 166 MB

While my time with Onion Assault was brief at just over 2 hours, the straight-forward premise is delivered with confidence and feels fresh every step of the way. A careful eye has been cast over each and every segment of platforming action to ensure moment-to-moment fun, and that’s exactly what my two hours with the game were filled with. Pure fun.

About gn-nakasan

gn-nakasan

Living in England, Neil cut his teeth on Supercars, Dizzy and Bubble Bobble on the C64. At 15 he became the (still reigning!) European Sonic Speed Champion and, barring the birth of his Daughter, he's been chasing that high ever since!

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