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Furry Legends - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Furry Legends

WiiWare | Gamelion | 1 Player | Out Now | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
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Review
5th August 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Gamelion's new WiiWare-based saga has gained some nice momentum since its announcement. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was really hyped, but there was a good number of people who really wanted this to turn out well. Furry Legends: Chapter One is the first release for what the team hopes to become an entire series of episodic games on WiiWare. But first they need to see how people react to their first release. While I don't think it's anything great quite yet, I'm looking forward to seeing where the developers take things from here.

    So the story goes that Furland is being overrun by a gang of Squaries who want to rid the world of fun, and Furballs. Enter Furzzle, a round creature who thinks he can take on the ever-powerful Lord Squarie. You'll travel to multiple environments, eventually winding up at the Temple of Flufffiness. Can Furzzle stop him before he steals the Sphere of Power to serve his evil ends? That's for you to find out. The plot ties things together nicely, even if it feels very familiar. The idea of a feud between two races has been explored countless times, but as you play, you may very well be wondering why they can't simply co-exist peacefully. 

    Mr. Green Furball won't have to do it alone, though. As you advance to new areas, you'll meet new friends who have been captured by evil Squaries. Rescuing them will urge them to join you on your journey. Each character has their own special power that will prove to be very useful. Furzzle's special is the Super Speed ability that allows him to travel at a faster speed for a short while. Your second friend, a blue Furball, has the ability to slow the game down with his Time Warp ability, perfect for getting past deadly traps. And finally, the orange-coloured Mighty Smashfur has the strength to destroy stone barriers that block access to secret pathways. There's not a whole lot of personality amongst them, especially with the orange and blue guys. Perhaps it would be interesting to see more character development in future episodes. For example, I could easily see the blue guy being the brains of the bunch - all he needs is a pair of specs and he'll be good to go! But I digress.

    
Both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are required to play this game. Using the Nunchuk's Control Stick allows you to control your Furball's movement, and to soar past gaps, you can press the A Button to jump. Thankfully, jumping hasn't been mapped to the swing of the Wii Remote. Your main attack is a forward thrust, somewhat like Sonic's Homing Attack, just not nearly as intuitive and fun to use. Hold the Z Button to lock onto your target (whether it be an enemy, a blockade, or a switch) and shake the Wii Remote as you hold the Control Stick in the direction of your enemy. This move also doubles as a special boost that you can use at the height of a normal jump to reach high ledges. Every time you use this ability, energy in the orange meter on the top-left goes down, but automatically refills with periods of inactivity.

    In isolated areas you'll find a plant that produces edible fruit. Consuming this special fruit will build up energy in the blue gauge, also located on the top-left. Pressing the B Button will activate your character's special ability, and in the case of the Time Warp ability, keeping it held down will continue to drain energy until you let go or there's nothing left to draw power from. The controls as a whole aren't difficult to understand, but I will admit that the system of attacking enemies may take a couple minutes to toy with. When I played the intro stage for the first time, I lost multiple lives trying to attack the enemy towards the beginning of the level. I was embarassed with myself for not getting it working right away like I had expected, but I did get used to it eventually, with a few mishaps along the way. 

    
The thing is, something tells me that the developers had a hunch that people would have trouble with the controls. You'll find levels contain a lot of checkpoints, and I can't help but think that this was just a precaution to help with any possible frustrations. But by including this many checkpoints, I didn't find myself challenged at all. Sure there were times when I did appreciate that they did this, but this was usually when the controls weren't working perfectly when I needed them to.

    The platforming elements in this game have clearly been inspired by older platformers. And rather than ever feeling surprised or thinking that the developers did something unique, everything in the game is predictably average. Bouncy mushrooms, geysers that fire you upwards, spike pits and of course you have your typical swinging platforms as well. There are some less-popular stuff, such as using your speed to turn a crank that's not unlike a hamster wheel. At times, I was reminded of platforming gems I've played over the years, but not in a good way. Rather than thinking "Oh hey, that reminds me of Mario! That's pretty cool", I kept thinking about how much better those games were.

    As you go exploring, you'll find a bunch of crystals turning up here and there. Collecting these don't carry much weight beyond a high-score and completing the game in its entirety, but completionists will definitely see the need to scour for every last one as they play. The level layouts themselves are alright, but they're nothing special. There was the occasional puzzle, which was good for breaking up the usual fare. But for me, one of the highlights of the game was in the form of a side-quest when I had to find and bounce three baby cows back to their mother. I sincerely hope there's more of these in the next game, as they did make the game more fun to play.

    
Another one of Furry Legends' most noteworthy aspects is its humorous dialogue. From time to time, enemies and NPC's will interact with you by means of text boxes instead of cartoony cutscenes. Whether it be immature statements, or references to popular culture (like Daft Punk) or even Internet-coined phrases, reading these are sure to make you smirk. On occasion, there were signs that you could look at in certain areas, and I found it funny the way the developers approached these. One sign read, "I can't believe you keep reading these". Silly stuff like that really had me going for a while at the back of my brain. It must be said, though, that these text boxes look terribly stale, mostly because of the font choice selected. They absolutely must be revamped moving forward.

    When it comes to the matter of visuals, Furry Legends looks average, with a style that's neither impressive nor memorable. Some of the creatures in the background are very odd, such as five-eyed crab, and a Divine Mushroom. It's clear that there's a lot of mystery to the world of Furland, and giving players a foretaste of it was a smart move to whet people's appetite for the next game. The main menu presents each level as a page in a giant picture book, which kind of goes back to the whole 'Legend' aspect. There are a few tracks to keep players entertained as they play, with some nice innocent music that translate into something more eerie (and annoying) as you get close to danger.

    There are a few more tweaks that Gamelion can make so Furry Legends becomes more likeable. I found the physics in the game were good, and I didn't have a problem with the it feeling too loose or anything like that. What I did have a problem with was the fact that game just wasn't that much fun. It needed something to make players feel more excited as they play, because without that sense of flair, it can get to a point where you just want to get to the end as fast as possible. Certainly a greater focus on variety in the level designs would help with this for future chapters. And after seeing the cliffhanger ending, I think there are lots of ways Gamelion can go from here. I personally envision levels that carry the thought of an ancient civilization, or perhaps even a new dimension of sorts that results in a grand culmination. Either way, I'm hopeful that the team will be able to deliver a stronger experience than what we've been initially exposed to.

    
Replay value comes in the form of achieving high scores on each level, and finding all of the collectable crystals. But for those who don't feel too motivated to continue to replay and master levels, you'll be left thinking, "Was that really it?". You're paying $10 for what feels more like a large-scale demo, and this isn't something everyone will be okay with. Although this may not be quite as ambitious, I found myself reminded of the approach taken with Monkey Island. If you experienced any of those games, you'll remember that they were also short in length, and with practically no replay value. So if you keep this in mind, this first chapter isn't that bad.

    If you've exhausted WiiWare's other platforming experiences, and don't mind spending the money, then Furry Legends is somewhat enjoyable.
 B
ut it's still very short in length and over way too quickly. Community response is what will help shape the next chapter, so I encourage you to express your thoughts on the game if you do give it a shot. At this time, we have no idea how Gamelion will handle the second chapter and how long it will take to get our hands on it. But for now, I can say that Chapter One is a nice start to what could be a good series of games. At the same time, this introduction isn't as much fun nor as strong as it could have been. So if you choose to wait for the next game instead, you won't be missing out on a lot.


20/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10 - Predictable platforming elements, the occasional puzzle here and there, involvement from NPC's
Presentation 7/10 - Not really memorable, music is decent, mysterious-looking world, levels are nothing special
Enjoyment 3/5 - Never all that exciting, pretty average experience, can be frustrating at times, controls aren't exactly user-friendly, humorous 
Extra Content 3/5 - 
Really, really short, over too fast, follow-ups planned with more chapters, can aim for high-scores and crystals

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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