Lovely Planet Review
Lovely Planet is a game that is made of marshmallows and cuddles, where you explore the world been kind and lovely to everything. Or not. Believe it or not this is a first person shooter, albeit one with a little bit of a difference. Armed with a bow and arrow instead of your standard gun you roam a world that looks straight out of a toddler’s cartoon.
This game looks like a typical Japanese stereotype and this is reinforced by the fact that a lot of the writing in the game is in Japanese (I presume it’s Japanese, although I’m no expert on such things). The bright colours are a nice change from the usual look of modern first person shooters and the soundtrack is mellow and soothing. That however is where the relaxing part of this game ends.
Here there are no explosions, no blood, no dismemberment but a lot of pace, an incredibly fast pace at times. The idea of Lovely Planet is to get through the short levels as fast as you can with rewards been offered the faster you complete each level. This means that this is as much a test of memory as it is one of accuracy as you are encouraged to repeat levels to get a better time.
The enemies in the game are blocky and generic but generally, on their own, won’t cause you too much trouble although given the added need for speed they can increase the stress levels ten-fold. To start out the game seems like a walk in the park with few real challenges but the difficulty increases at a nice pace with new challenges added as you go along. These may include more obstacles for you to jump over or the introduction of apples that will kill you if they hit the ground. Death in this game doesn’t mean that you will respawn at a checkpoint but have to start the level again.
There is very little explanation as to what is happening in the game as you go along therefore a lot of trial and error is needed to get through it. For example, if the before mentioned apples hit the ground before you can shoot them then you die, there is no explanation that this is what happens so I was mighty confused when the level just kept restarting at random without any reason why. It took me several attempts to realise what was happening, there are several things like this in Lovely Planet which can get more than a little frustrating at times. When you do get the hang of this then the audio can give you a lot of hints, indicating which enemy you have killed and whether apples have been fired etc.
The speed aspect of the game means that you don’t have time to think too hard about what is happening in the instant but you are helped a little in this regard by been able to preview what is in each level before you start it, meaning that you have some idea what to expect, in theory anyway. Some levels will take a lot of retries to get through and this is one of the appeals of the game. The challenge can feel impossible and to complete a thirty second level could take in excess of half an hour but this only goes towards giving you a bigger sense of accomplishment when you do actually pass the level. Sometimes you will replay levels so many times that you get through by muscle memory alone and on more than one occasion I was actually stunned to have managed to get through a level, thinking that the difficulty had actually beaten me. Having to repeat levels again and again sounds really frustrating but due to the shortness of the levels this very rarely becomes the case.
Later on in the game levels can seem to drag on a bit as there are no new enemies to introduce and the only difference to previous levels is the pace that you have to go at, with some enemies killing you for merely having taken too long to kill them. It can also be a little frustrating when you are penalised for having taken one too many shots to kill something even though you are trying to go through the level as fast as you can.
Lovely Planet is not a game that you will beat through luck alone. One mistake can lead to instant failure therefore a lot of skill is required at times, especially later on in the game. This makes sure that this is not a game for the average gamer and will appeal to a special breed of gamer. That gamer will have a masochistic streak a mile long meaning that they don’t mind playing the same small part of the game again and again. This is a game that punishes you for every mistake, meaning that the urge to rage may well only be around the next lovely soft green corner.
Lovely Planet is a game that has a lot of charm and will appeal a lot to the right type of gamer. Those of you who like a game that encourages speed running and a lot of repeated challenges this would be a great addition to your game collection as it will only cost you somewhere in the region of £7-£10. For the more casual player then this money should really be burning a hole in your pocket for you to make the investment. This been said, most people will find Lovely Planet an enjoyable experience, even if it’s only for a short amount of time.