Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lovely Planet (Wii U eShop) Review

It's time for a Sunday evening review for a game that has seen release on Steam as well as on Xbox One. However, this review is focused on the newly released Wii U eShop port. Here's SuperPhillip Central's review of the Wii U eShop version of Lovely Planet.

The planet may be lovely, but the game unfortunately isn't.

I wanted to love Lovely Planet so much. Really I did. It has a pleasant flat polygon art style, catchy, if not infectious tunes, and a nice premise to it. However, several frustrations all revolving around the "hard for the wrong reasons" difficulty made Lovely Planet decidedly less than lovely when all is said and done.

Lovely Planet has you playing through over 80 levels of first-person shooting action. The objective of each level is to defeat every enemy through shooting them while getting to the goal. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, this is made challenging through a host of things wanting nothing more than to kill you and means for making you fail.

Whether it's pink balls of goo that you innocently brush against, enemies that shoot slow-moving bullets at you, spikes, innocent blue creatures that if you shoot you immediately fail the level, and apples that launch from catapults that if you don't destroy them before they touch the ground, you lose. The latter isn't made totally clear, so it took me a little while to catch on to this nugget of information.

Don't shoot those blue characters, or you'll find yourself restarting this level.
Levels are relatively short affairs, taking less than thirty seconds to complete, but that's only on a perfect run. Otherwise, you essentially have to memorize levels for all the obstacles and death traps, making more and more progress through each attempt. (Though you can use hit the 2 button-- not the 1 button like the on-screen prompt says-- to check out a level ahead of time.) You can easily fail a level upwards of a hundred times, though this isn't so common in the early worlds. Thankfully, once you do get fail a level, you're instantly brought back to the beginning to try it again with no pauses. The problem here, though, with Lovely Planet is that you fail levels due to not having known what was coming ahead instead of being able to observe your surroundings and dodge obstacles that way. It's all rote memorization, and it's all frustrating, too much so that it will test the patience of most players almost immediately.

In addition to that, there's plenty of platforming to be done in this first-person shooter. Not knowing where your feet are when you have platforms that are quite thin, some even disappearing from out from under your feet before you even know what happened, it becomes very easy to fall into the abyss. The platforming here isn't tight, and what challenge there is comes from falling off levels accidentally because you couldn't grasp where the end of a platform was.

The visuals look delightful, stylish, and dare I say, lovely.
The fact that Lovely Planet completely lacks an aiming reticle for targeting makes going for any kind of accuracy an annoyance. Be prepared to die because you couldn't properly aim at a foe before it could shoot you into oblivion. While through repeated playing does give you a sixth sense on where to aim to take down faraway foes, it's something that is a learning curve and something that I found to be needless.

On Wii U, you can play Lovely Planet with the Wii U GamePad, using dual analog to aim, though this isn't preferred due to how clunky the controls feel, or you can use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, which offers pointer controls and the ability to adjust the sensitivity of aiming and turning. This was my desired method of playing Lovely Planet, and while I never found the aiming perfect despite tinkering with the sensitivity a mighty amount, it ended up being fun to use regardless.

A lovely shot. (Have you noticed how much I'm really milking this "lovely" thing?)
For those who aren't turned away by the brutally hard difficulty, levels in Lovely Planet each have three stars to gain through various means. The first is always earned from defeating every enemy in a level. This is mandatory to pass levels anyway, so it's always earned. The second is through completing a level within a specific time. Finally, you need to not miss any shots to earn the third star, which as I noted before, is no easy task. Fortunately, you need not earn all three stars in a single run, so you can focus on one specific challenge each run.

Lovely Planet features a difficulty that feels artificial and worse, unfair. Levels often require rote memorization, perfect platforming when the game doesn't really offer that as a viable option due to the controls, and pinpoint accuracy to stay alive. Be prepared to restart a level a plethora of times. Most players won't have the patience for this. I certainly don't. However, if for some reason you do, then you'll find a ball-busting hard first-person shooter under the disguise of a cute game.

[SPC Says: D+] 

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