Before I dip my toes into an unknown world, I like to have a general idea of what I’m up against. As I skimmed through the brief synopsis of Bad Pad on Steam, the words “a little frustrating at times” caught my attention. Now, I have experienced a lot of challenging video games throughout the years, but it has been quite some time until one enraged me as often as Bad Pad has – in the most enjoyable and rewarding way. Presenting an innovative adventure of an angered Square button unleashed from its controller’s gamepad, Headbang Games and Oray Studios developed environments sufficiently arduous to drive one mad.
Bad Pad is seemingly a platformer with a hint of puzzle-solving. Its creatively constructed introduction is comical and melodic. Well, melodic as in insane guitar riffs – but the metal jams blend swimmingly with the vibes Bad Pad emits. As the little square enters an exquisite world of spikes, flames and other murderous nuisances, one thing becomes obviously clear: death is achievable at any given time. To spice up the inevitable demise, gore splatters across the screen as Square gasps for his last breath. Some may say it’s a tad dramatic, but the balance between comedy and violence is commendable. Either way, I typically end up shedding hysterical tears because (a) Bad Pad itself is a laughable concept or, (b) I have literally lost all hope in myself because my death count has reached the triple digits. Nonetheless, the challenging atmosphere is the game’s most addictive feature. But with a little trial and error, patterns are conceived and the world begins to make a little more sense.
As Square climbs vines across dangerous grounds or leaps sporadically through space and time, he encounters levers along the way that open other passageways. Some levers have numbers plastered upon them which strictly open their corresponding doors. Plain levers typically open corridors in Square’s current area, cutting out the extraneous hunt for numbered entrances. It can be a pain in the butt, especially if you haven’t taken it upon yourself to memorize which numbered door is where.Along the way, coins, energy capsules and keys can be pocketed. Additionally, minor power-ups, such as the ability to glow, are attainable. Square collects coins to unlock neat arcade games scattered across the map.
Though coins are easy to come across, the process of actually possessing all of them is a bit more difficult and requires some strategic maneuvers. Energy capsules contribute to Square’s health meter, while keys can be used to unlock fancy doors, leading to more foreseeable doom. Unfortunately, Square can’t fight back much or really at all. Tactically dodging past spinning wheels of spikes becomes second nature as well as cautiously entering a new area. The number of times I have sprinted into a room and landed in a pit of spikes is impressive.
Bad Pad is also well polished and user-friendly. It isn’t every day you fumble across a Steam game with not only controller support, but exceptionally tight controls that don’t have your protagonist flying off-screen at the flick of the analog stick. Controlling Square as he jumps from platform to platform is seamless. It’s actually kind of annoying because I can’t blame my clumsiness on the controls. Not even a little bit, not even at all. Luckily, little television screens are dispersed amongst rooms and both save Square’s progress and refill his health gauge instantaneously. Though the gameplay is indubitably unique, the repetitive style of each area makes them look relatively alike. Not to mention, Square has to conquer many challenges numerous times. You know that one part you barely mustered through, but you had a little Lady Luck slouching on your shoulder? Sorry, buddy. You’re going to have to relive that moment over and over again until you actually master its strategy. Though insanely frustrating, Bad Pad forces its players to become better and more tactful because more problematic traps lie ahead.
Occasionally, Square will enter an area and boom, cue boss battle. There isn’t a moment to breathe or comprehend being shot at by a flying saucer. Recognizing a pattern in boss man’s attacks is necessary; otherwise, a frenzy of soaring right into his attack is inevitable. Occurrences such as these boggled my brain and caused it to swell to twice its size. Was I angry? Yes. Did that stop me from prospering as a troubled gamepad button? Absolutely not. Roll with the punches, take a few hits where it hurts here and there, and carry on. It’s all any square button can really do. After thousands of deaths and a slew of colorful yet vulgar vocabulary, Bad Pad still deserves a solid thumbs up. It’s a platformer that you binge on until you hit a bump in the road, take a break from momentarily, and return back to with your head held high. With plenty to achieve, Square must continue to use his anger to conquer all that is set in his path and unveil the comical aspects of his story.