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Our Review by Campbell Bird on January 12th, 2019
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: TOUGH AS NAILS
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Brutal difficulty can be fun, but DUNKYPUNG is perhaps a bit too hard.

Developer: Nathan Meunier

Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.7
App Reviewed on: iPhone SE

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starhalfstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

DUNKYPUNG is not for the faint of heart. It takes the simple idea of avoiding dangers and uses it to create increasingly punishing trials that you simply need to endure. For what it’s worth, DUNKYPUNG is exceptionally well made, but I’m not sure it’s a game anyone but the most masochistic will want to stick with for too terribly long.

Brutally simple

DUNKYPUNG’s concept is simple. You control a red ball that can bounce mid-air at the tap of a finger (similar to the bird in Flappy Bird). It’s your goal to bounce this ball off the walls of an arena while simultaneously gathering collectibles and avoiding dangers that randomly appear over time.

These levels start out easy enough. Some sawblades might fall from the ceiling, or some spikes may stick out of the walls, but you can avoid those no problem with a little patience. After gathering a certain number of collectibles though, you’ll move onto a level’s next wave, which will introduce another obstacle for you to overcome, and that’s where the game gets really interesting.

The gauntlet

To complete any given level in DUNKYPUNG, you need to survive through three waves of hazards, plus a boss character. If you die at any point while playing a level, you have to start it over from the very beginning. This makes DUNKYPUNG an exercise in extreme focus, as waves layer on additional hazards for you to avoid in the midst of play.

What can make these waves so brutal is that they aren’t time-limited. Wave lengths are completely dependent on the rate at which you gather collectibles, meaning long stretches of DUNKYPUNG can go by where you aren’t making any progress. Even when you are gathering up collectibles at a nice pace though, waves can still take almost a minute, which may not feel like much time, but in the world of DUNKYPUNG, it can feel like an eternity.

Not worth the effort

DUNKYPUNG is the kind of game that is very aware of how difficult it is. If the game seems too difficult, there is the option to play in “Casual Mode,” which gives you three lives per level using the beginning of waves as checkpoints. Even with this easier mode though, DUNKYPUNG can be quite brutal.

In my time with DUNKYPUNG, I found myself gravitating to Casual Mode even before clearing the game’s first level, and even then not having an easy time making progress. It’s a bit of a shame, too, because DUNKYPUNG has some interesting layers to it, though you won’t necessarily see or appreciate them unless you really push through and train yourself to get really good at the game.

The bottom line

I can definitely see the appeal of DUNKYPUNG, but its difficulty caused me more frustration than satisfaction. Although it has some cool ideas, I always felt like I had to invest an enormous amount of time and focus to get a glimpse at any of it, and the payoff wasn’t worth it. Others may disagree, but for me, DUNKYPUNG is a little too hard for its own good.

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