A simple challenge.
Review written by
October 12th, 2009
WiiWare has proven thus far that it can be a capable haven for both incredible experiences and horrible abominations. Both of these categories, however, are the extremes and few games truly deserve to fall into either. Gravitronix, a game gifted to me for this review by Medaverse Studios, finds itself somewhere in between. Of course, the fact that the game was free will not be an influence on my opinion.
As a simple arcade-style game, Gravitronix is meant to be practiced and mastered. It has a high difficulty curve that some might find hard to overcome. For others, the challenge is enough to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, where the game succeeds in gameplay, it lacks in polish, which may become a quick annoyance for those affected by such.
Quite a bit of thought was apparently put into how the game functions. There are two modes of gameplay - campaign mode, which has the player go through 21 varying challenges, and a basic versus mode that puts the players with or against each other in matches.
The game has simple rules: hit the opponents' barriers with the four different kinds of objects available while avoiding getting your own barrier struck. Once a barrier has been broken, the player must try to launch more objects through it in order to defeat the foe. These objects float around the space on screen until the players either push them away by streaming some sort of blue flame, or grab on to the object, aim, and then launch in the desired direction. The four blocks are of different shapes and properties, and vary in how much they weigh and how much damage they can inflict.
The controls are simple enough, but take a while to get used to. In both cases of the Wiimote and nunchuck (nunchuck is used as a controller option in multiplayer), the controller is twisted to move the character around the circumference of his or her area. The player pushes the objects away by pressing A or C, and grabs the object by pressing B or Z, respectively. Simple, but there's more to the game than just knowing the controls. Strategy also takes a large precedence over the concerns of the player.
The gameplay is good, but the AI seems very prejudiced against human players. There also isn't a great deal of change in how the game is played throughout. It's often the case that winning is reliant on luck. Nevertheless, it's exciting and worth the time to get good at.
Graphics, unlike the gameplay, feel rushed and unimpressive. The game lacks widescreen support, and instead of even stretching the image, two bands of black are added on either side of a 4:3 picture. Particle effects like explosions and fireworks look cheap and boring. The color scheme is a mix of blue and the only real variation in color is in the blocks and the characters themselves, which act as icons to represent the player. The blocks look decent, but they aren't anything extraordinary.
The character designs vary from being generic to confusing, and no back-story whatsoever is given to any of them. They are also given an Anime-ish style, which some might find canned and simplistic. I suppose some of the characters are okay, but most just have little life, preventing the player from even wanting to know more about them.
Sound and music are both considerable assets for a game to have when they're well done. Gravitronix doesn't employ the most effective use of either, however, and it adds to the general feeling of unprofessionalism the game lets off. There are only five music tracks and none are particularly interesting or memorable. The sound effects do their jobs, but more effort could have been put in to making them liven up the experience.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Gravitronix's sound is its poor use of voice work. Whenever a character says something, during or after a match, it comes across as annoying and rushed. You might say it's noble for Medaverse to want to give some life to the characters, but they become even more unlikable after hearing what they have to say.
Gravitronix has a lot to do, depending on how willing the player is to defeat the challenges. To improve your skills, you will be required to spend a lot of time honing strategies, of which there are plenty to discover and create.
The versus mode adds more to the experience by offering uncomplicated struggles between players. I will say that it is far better to have multiple people who are willing to play, because going it alone with the AI is much more difficult. The AI tends to gang up on players, giving less chance of success, depending on how the player sets up the matches.
In the end, Gravitronix will last as long as the player allows it to. Some may get sick of the concept early on and not have the patience to complete all the challenges, while others will develop a liking towards the game.
As stated before, WiiWare has both great and poor. Does Gravitronix deserve to fit into either extreme? I wouldn't say so. It expresses many positives while at the same time fails at achieving a fully exceptional mark. Nevertheless, the game costs what its worth. 500 points is little to ask for a game that has its fun moments and definite challenge.
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