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Title screen of Syobon Action.
|Release date(s)||December 2007|
Syobon Action (しょぼんのアクション Shobon no Akushon?, commonly known as Cat Mario) is a 2D Japanese platform freeware indie video game released in December 2007 that is known for its levels designed to cause extreme frustration due to innocuous-looking objects that suddenly kill the character. The game contains elements that resemble and parody Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The player controls a kitten-like character who must venture through side-scrolling platform levels similar to Super Mario Bros. The game consists of four levels (six in the online version) riddled with traps designed to trick the player, including normal-looking ground tiles that fall away into pits, blocks that sprout spikes when touched, enemies that spawn nearly on top of the character, deadly background scenery, and a Mario-style flagpole that kills the character in two different ways. Despite the surprise factor of these traps, the levels do not change between plays, allowing the player to memorize their locations and eventually make progress. Experienced players must still remain on guard, though, lest they let years of platforming convention overrule their knowledge of the traps and trick them into deadly accidents. Some designers have commented on how the game requires the player to think logically through trial-and-error in order to complete the game.
Syobon Action was developed by Chiku (ちく chiku?), who programmed the first stage of the game in three days for the cultural festival in his college, and finished the rest three stages after the festival in two weeks. The concept and overall inspiration of the game mainly originated from a Japanese Flash game on 2channel called The Life-Ending Adventure or The Big Adventure of Owata's Life (人生ｵﾜﾀの大冒険 Jinsei Owata no Daibōken?). Most of the game's music are MIDI renditions of music taken from other games, including Cheetahmen (overworld), Spelunker (underground), Ghosts 'n Goblins (castle), and Puyo Puyo (credits), but in the unofficial versions, all the levels are from Super Mario Bros. 3.
An open source version of Syobon Action has been released under the name of Open Syobon Action. This version of the game has allowed developers to port it to various platforms, such as AmigaOS 4.1, Dreamcast, and Linux. This game has also been ported unofficially to the Nintendo Wii, available through the Homebrew Channel and Nintendo 3DS and adds five levels from an unofficial sequel labeled Syobon Action 2.
Syobon Action was generally received positively, though the reviews note the intense and often frustrating difficulty of the game. It was recognized as a game that "systematically disrupts every convention of 2D platform gameplay", and that success in the game often relies on both trial-and-error-like strategies and the player's ability to use counterintuitive strategies to avoid obstacles.'
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