Double Cross is the latest release from 13AM Games, the creative minds behind Runbow. These guys know their platforming, and this time they’ve developed a solid one-player action-adventure platformer that crosses Mega Man with Mario. With some tricky sections, a futuristic story spanning multiple dimensions, and a kick-ass heroine, it does a great job at keeping up with those classics.

In Double Cross, you play the role of Agent Zahra Sinclair. She works for RIFT – Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology – to protect the parallel dimensions of Earth. They basically police the multiverse. Zahra’s latest case begins when someone has the audacity to attack the RIFT headquarters – it could even be an inside job. Several clues open up a pathway to gather more evidence, and this is where the fun begins.

Double Cross - headquarters

There’s a lot to like about Double Cross. It shows a lot of promise right from the get-go, with an interactive tutorial that covers the basic moves via a police training camp. Zahra’s moves are diverse and easy to master. You can jump, run and punch – so far, so standard. Then there’s Zahra’s slingshot. It’s like an electric whip that can latch onto special anchors to fly you across dangerous ravines. You can also catch or pickup certain items and use them as projectiles against enemies. Time slows down while you’re aiming your slingshot, Matrix style, and it’s super fun and fluid to use. When slingshotting in quick succession, you feel a little like Spiderman, gracefully making your way around.

Double Cross - Gootopia

I also love Zahra’s extra abilities, accessible via a separate energy bar. As you defeat enemies, they drop little pellets that you collect to fill said bar. There are three ways to use this power – healing yourself, hurling a fireball, or exploding into a huge energy burst. I found myself mostly using the healing.

Like most classic platformers, this is a tough game. Double Cross initially lulls you into a bit of a false sense of security before ramping it up, although you can choose which level to try next, and there’s a handy star rating to indicate the difficulty. Three stars is much harder than one.

Levels are set within different versions of Earth – dinosaurs still rule in one, another is made of gelatinous goo, and robots have taken over yet another (basically, Skynet won here). Each is a creative distortion of Earth, and they vary greatly in their design. From caves to factories, there’s so much to explore here. The designs are lovely, with a colorful, flat and cartoony feel to them. Some backgrounds work better than others – one nighttime scene, complete with massive full moon, is a standout. Others are a little more jarring on the eye, like one of the robot levels that looks a lot like Sonic 2’s Casino Night Zone on acid.

Double Cross - more goo

There are plenty of familiar platforming perils to navigate. You’ll need quick reflexes as you jump off sinking islands, rush under fast-moving columns, or use switch mechanics to open up new pathways. There are unique elements too, like goo that bounces you to dizzying heights or balloons that let you soar equally high. It all adds to fun, fast and addictive gameplay.

Double Cross - aiming

An extra incentive to explore is Upgradium – you can probably guess what this does. The upgradium is hidden throughout the levels in clever ways reminiscent of Mario’s outings, with nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered. As you gather more Upgradium, Zahria levels up, unlocking more moves and health bonuses. It took me a while to realise how to actually use my new abilities, with a cryptic “Activate a terminal for more information” message at the end of each level. It turned out that the “terminals” are the save points scattered throughout the game. I expected my abilities to be chosen at the time of unlocking, or back at RIFT headquarters.

Each level takes about half an hour to complete. With nine levels available up front and more to unlock along the way, there’s plenty to do here. Each has a unique goal, like rescuing someone or finding evidence of something else. These are like stepping stones on the way to solving your mystery, adding to the excitement and keeping you hooked. As you find more clues, you can talk to your colleagues back at headquarters to help decipher them, building your case. It’s intriguing and well done, making you feel a little like a real detective.

There’s fun to be had along the way too, with a bit of banter between the cast of interesting characters. The involving story embeds a little humor into the mix, though it sometimes falls a little flat. Still, it’s non-offensive and keeps things moving at a brisk pace, despite the inability to skip passages of text, even on repeat playthroughs. Thankfully, these passages are short, so it’s a minor quibble.

Double Cross - talking

My main criticism of Double Cross is a framerate issue, leading to somewhat jittery movement in a few levels. It’s more noticeable in handheld mode, but it can feel a little jarring at times. It’s not enough to make the game unplayable by any means, but some of the more intensely lit levels strained my eyes after some time. I also managed to freeze the game a couple of times. I had to restart the Switch and I lost my progress in those levels, which was a little frustrating. Hopefully these are just early release bugs that will be ironed out with a quick patch.

Overall, Double Cross is a great platformer. It’s fun and engaging, with a unique story and gameplay elements. There are a few minor display issues that stop it from reaching greatness, though these could easily be solved with an update. If you’re a fan of Mario or Mega Man, I highly recommend checking this one out.