If the princess is rescued, then the game must be over, right? Not if you're Enemy 585, the "hero" of Nitrome's latest arcade platformer with a twist. Enemy 585 is just a low level baddie like hundreds of others who happens to get passed over by a familiar looking hero who goes on to stomp on Enemy 585's boss. Seven years down the road and Enemy 585 is still hanging around; turns out that he's a fairly simple creature, and with nobody to tell him what to do, he... well, hasn't done anything.
Fortunately, you've come along to help, and you just happen to be a mobile platform that takes pity on him. After all, he may not be the brightest bulb around, but it's hard not to feel sorry for someone who's spent the better part of a decade walking back and forth in a space the size of a coffin. In each level, the goal is to protect Enemy 585, who keeps moving in a straight line until he meets and obstacle and turns around. That's where you come in, since being a platform means you can plug or bridge gaps, or provide a helpful step up. (Enemy 585 will only climb over one-block height obstacles.) You've also got Manuel on your side (a helpful signpost) who appears periodically to offer up information.
Control is pretty simple, since being a platform doesn't come with a whole lot of bells and whistles. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move around, and the [spacebar] to rotate. The only real catch is that you can't rotate without the space to do so, or move when Enemy 585 is standing on you. (He's not fat! He's... no, wait, he is kinda fat.) You have a different shape in each level, and you'll have to think fast in order to figure out how to best use yourself when danger appears since Enemy 585 has no sense of self preservation and blunder straight off cliffs or into spikes and other enemies, who will spell certain doom for your little purple pal. But try not to hold it against them. After all, they're only doing their job, just like Enemy 585. If he gets hit, he'll have to restart the level, but you can hold down [F] to make everything move faster if you get impatient. You can worry about the time and collecting all the coins if you like, but the only real impact they have is on your final score for each level.
Analysis: No prizes for guessing the influences at work here. But rather than make another standard platformer about a chubby plumber chasing after an air-headed princess, Nitrome has shaken things up again and added their trademark twist to the genre. The concept behind it is great, and it's hard not to feel bad for 585. The whole thing is bright, colourful, cheerful, and wonderfully silly. Although... if 585 is working his way back from the final boss lair... shouldn't the levels be getting easier rather than harder the further you go? Hmmm. Nerd logic!
Of course, Enemy 585 isn't without his faults. The one-hit K-O is a bit of a drag, and potentially extremely frustrating. Since you can't scroll through levels, you can't see what's coming up, and you'll often only have a few seconds to react. Being able to speed up 585's movements helps, but it's little consolation for the repetition. Some levels can be downright nerve-wracking, with enemies and all sorts of obstacles that have to be taken into consideration if you want your little buddy to reach the end unscathed. It's incredibly frustrating to bump into walls and other terrain trying to rush to 585's rescue and frantically orient yourself in time, especially since some levels have pretty tight quarters and might take you more than a few tries to figure out.
Like a lot of Nitrome games, Enemy 585 winds up being one of those games where you say, "It's great, but... " With quicker and more forgiving gameplay, Enemy 585 would be a real champion. Still, it has a great concept, a fantastic design, and even though some might find its gameplay too frustrating, it's still easily worth a look. The next time you play a platformer, maybe you'll spare a little thought for the hordes of enemies stuck in their ruts and put them out of the misery. Or at least give them a subscription to Netflix or something.
UPDATE: As of November 12th, 2010, Nitrome has taken your comments and feedback into consideration and added checkpoints to all levels!