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Mr Karoshi

For: Android   Also on: Xperia Play

Definitely not the easy way out

Product: Mr Karoshi | Publisher: YoYo Games | Format: Android | Genre: Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Mr Karoshi Android, thumbnail 1
He’s been impaled on spikes, squashed under heavy blocks, and electrocuted into a charred black heap for three years, but poor Mr Karoshi still can’t find a way to end it all.

The suicidal salaryman (a Japanese term for cubicle office workers) first landed in a bloody heap on PCs in 2008.

Now a re-designed version has landed with a bone-snapping crunch on Android, promising 50 entirely new chances to put Mr Karoshi out of his perpetual misery.

Not for the easily offended (avert your eyes, Daily Mail readers), it’s a deliciously dark experience counterpointed with a jolly 8-bit visuals and blip-beat audio that’s more Mario than Meat Boy.

The tumble of doom

While the story of miserable Mr Karoshi and his heartless boss plays out in occasional, crudely drawn cut-scenes, levels take place in retro 2D platforming environments with plenty of buttons to push, boxes to move, and precise leaps to make.

The main aim is not to escape each intricately detailed screen but to find the most efficient way to kill the hero. Burning, crushing, and electrocuting will all do the trick, yet it’s rarely as simple as finding the nearest spike pit to hurl Karoshi into.

Most levels can only be solved by setting up a complex chain reaction to send the hero into the sweet oblivion he craves.

Life and death

The game starts simply enough, letting you get used to the mechanics, but ruthless trial-and-error challenges swiftly become the norm.

Progress relies on completing every level in sequence, so be prepared to hit a few brick walls once levels become crowded with switches, out-of-reach ledges, and disappearing platforms.

The inclusion of Mrs Karoshi, whose love turns spikes into flowers and grants her hubby a higher leap, and the evil boss, whose touch drags his employee’s jump height down with his mood, adds another fiendish layer of complexity.

But some of the most memorable levels scrap this formula entirely, throwing you lateral thinking puzzles that prove infuriatingly simple once you've deciphered the sneaky visual clues.

Tap away from the edge

Fortunately, the developer has wisely scrapped the traditionally clumsy virtual D-pad or thumb-stick in favour of three simple and responsive touchscreen icons: 'left' and 'right' arrows on one side of the screen and a 'jump' button on the other.

The single-screen levels, paired with a snappy Restart option, keep the challenges brief but head-scratchingly satisfying.

And if you collect enough hard-to-reach tokens along the way, you unlock a score-attack Karoshi-Ware mode with only seconds to die or cheat death if you want to rack up points.

It’s a ruthlessly addictive added bonus to a game that, although brief, is stuffed with smart puzzles and blackly comic appeal. Long live Mr Karoshi.
Mr Karoshi
Reviewer photo
Paul Devlin | 28 March 2011
Darker than a bar of Bourneville, this is a uniquely twisted platform puzzles that sparks your synapses while tickling your funny bone
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