Thursday, November 06, 2008

Art Style Orbient Review

Suda 51 of Grasshopper Manafature, makers of Killer7 and No More Heroes, calls himself a punk game maker. One thing that lead to the punk rock revolution in the 70's was people being tired of long winded Progressive Rock bands, such as Pink Floyd and their super long songs. The Ramones debut album was shorter then some Pink Floyd songs. Punk rock brought rock back to the basics. In the sense of Punk style games, Orbient is a lot more punk then No More Heroes.
Orbient is apart of the Art Style WiiWare titles, which are the spiritual sequels (some times actual sequels or remakes) of the Gameboy Advance Bit Generation games. The Bit Generation games were solely released in Japan and were simple little games. Orbient is a remake of the Bit Generation game Orbital.
Orbient is a two button game. That's it. Just 'A' and 'B'. No use of the control stick, no wagging the Wii Mote, no directional pad (except in the menus). In the game you control a little sphere/planet and your goal is to grow bigger and get the target sun in your orbit. You use the 'A' button to pull you closer to objects and 'B' button to push you away. Sounds simple doesn't it? But it gets a little more complicated. Your little sphere never stops moving and soon you must orbit around a larger sun and set your path. The game is very much a game of timing. Some suns/planets stay stationary, others move. Then there's asteroids and black holes. Smack into a celestial body bigger then yours and you're going to loose a life (usually start off with 5). So it's kind of like Asteroids meets Katamari. Once your planet/sphere gets bigger you can then get smaller planets to orbit you. It can get pretty neat when you become one of the larger bodies in the stage and you have 14 things orbiting you. At the end of the level you're judged by time and how many objects are in orbit around you. The levels can be tough, but in a good way. I never found myself so frustrated that I couldn't play anymore. Chances are you will die several times in a level.

The music of the game ranges from simple little tunes to haunting. The music is fitting, sometimes there's a sense of wonder and awe to it, other times it's menacing, like something off of Alien. The real problem is the sound effects. The music is about half the volume the sound effects are. When you crash into a different body you'll hear it. On top of that, when a single planet is oribiting your sphere there's a little 8 bit-ish jingle added, when you get three bodies around you the other music stops and you're stuck with a repeating every 2 second bit high pitched melody that gets tired fast. Sometimes found myself looking for a 4th just to get the song to change. Once you get a 4th the music shifts to a peaceful tune that gets a little more complex the more things orbit you, I think it caps at 12.
Graphic wise, don't expect anything too pretty. Like I said, you control a sphere. The backgrounds are kind of nice, would have been even nicer to see Hubble Space Telescope backgrounds, or better 3D effects on some of the background stages. In one stage there's a giant rotating moon that looks like it's a sphere with only 30 polygons and a stretched texture. But overall, the graphics works.

I'm adding this game to the list of great puzzle games mentioned in my Doctor Mario Online RX review. At 600 Wii Points (6 bucks) it's a great deal.

Grade: B

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