"Here's another place you can go, where everything flows."

In the new platformer Onion Assault, you play a shirtless fellow who spends most of his time picking onions and throwing them at people. I’m not sure if this appeals to me because of its randomness or because that’s exactly how I’d like to live my life.

I mean, that’s not the entire game. You don’t have to be a shirtless guy; you can be his mom. You can throw other things, not just onions. There’s a lot of jumping to be done, and sometimes you’ll have to fight army tanks. Still, an overall satisfying existence.

Onion Assault comes from Hörberg Productions, the developer that brought us Mechstermination Force and Gunman Clive. The game plays like Super Mario Bros. 2, with your chosen character running and leaping (mostly) left to right across a colorful world as he/she utilizes various objects to eliminate enemies and solve some puzzles.

This world, called Onionia, is instantly charming. It’s sparsely detailed, but richly colored, and the background elements bop along with the music like in a 1930s cartoon. Enemies and weapons are easy to detect, allowing you to focus on successfully getting from here to there.

Onionia is divided into different locations of four levels each, with a total of 16 levels to play through. That’s fairly short, but there’s enough incentive to warrant multiple playthroughs. As one would expect, each level has three hidden coins to collect, and some were so challenging to reach that I had no problem leaving them behind. Simply getting to the end of the levels demands enough attention.

As I mentioned, you’re not just throwing onions here. There are chasms to cross, switches to activate, bosses to defeat, and no shortage of things to avoid. The challenge starts early, too, as many enemies (we’ll call them sub-bosses) first require you to figure out how to defeat them. As much as I wish it were true, you can’t just knock out a tank by throwing an onion at it.

So, much like in the aforementioned (and superior) Mechstermination Force, losing to enemies is sometimes a requirement of learning what to do.

The controls, unfortunately, don’t ease this process. Onion Assault often requires you to jump on an enemy’s head to either pick it up for throwing or to get the height you need to reach a platform or switch. But movement doesn’t feel precise, making it difficult to time your landing. And if you miss the enemy’s head, you end up right beside it where it can damage you. So, by the time you reach the bosses that require plenty of skill, you’re already frustrated and down some hearts. Even the aiming feels weird. I was an hour in before I felt adept at placing my throws, and the challenge ramps up considerably if you’re not able to knock an enemy from a platform before you have to jump up or down there yourself. Multiple checkpoints mean you don’t have to start from scratch each time you’re killed, but level fatigue will still set in.

None of this is that big of a deal when you consider the game can be completed in just a few hours. And that’s not that big of a deal when you consider it costs just $8. The frustration is part of the experience, and you will get the gaming elation when you get through a particularly tricky sequence or past a decidedly nasty boss. Onion Assault is a fun way to pass a long car ride or a lazy Saturday afternoon. And if you want all those coins, maybe even a holiday weekend.

At any rate, it helps to justify the shirtless, vegetable-throwing lifestyle I’ve been seeking.