Granted, the game is supposed to be a pain in the ass to play. You see, it's one of those "extreme platformers"--like another XBLIG release, Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES, or like the infamous Sunsoft side-scroller, Atlantis no Nazo.
This is the main view you'll have while playing Platformance: Castle Pain.
For those of you who have never played, let alone heard of, those games, both of them present players with so many obstacles and traps that it's nearly impossible to complete them without dying numerous times. Platformance: Castle Pain follows in their harrowing footsteps, with countless fireballs, spikes and other such terrors placed between the start and finish of the single-screened title.
Thankfully, Platformance: Castle Pain eschews "lives" completely. Yes, that means you're free to die as often as you'd like. Even then, though, it's is far from a pixelated walk in the park--due, mainly, to the presence of an ambling ghost that follows the player's path and acts as a timer of sorts. (Basically, the game ends if the ghost catches up to and touches you.)
Hit the 'x' button on your Xbox 360 pad and you'll zoom out a bit.
Mr. Ghost isn't much of a problem as long as you play Platformance: Castle Pain on easy. Play the game on medium or hard, though, and he becomes an ever-present reminder that if you don't keep moving you'll soon find yourself staring at a "game over" screen.
Although that imbues the game's easiest mode with a good amount of tension, it could be argued that it adds a bit too much tension to its more difficult modes--especially when combined with the title's overabundance of obstacles and slightly slippery controls.
Hit 'x' button again and you'll see the entire stage.
That's about the only complaint I can lodge against this uniquely constructed platformer--which, suitably enough, takes place within the confines of a picture frame. I say suitably because Platformance: Castle Pain, with its 8-bit-esque graphics, is a sight to behold.
Just as beautiful is the game's soundtrack, which begins rather generically (not to mention regally) before transforming into something that could easily be mistaken for the best game tune you've never heard. Translation: It rocks--just like (most of) the rest of this 80 MSP ($1) game.
See also: 'A somewhat gay review of Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars'