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Goony - DSiWare Review

Game Info

DSiWare | CIRCLE Entertainment / Moragami | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | 200 Nintendo Points
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22nd March 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

In the wake of functionally responsive and pace-perfect iterations like Temple Run 2, it's easy to downplay the worth of lower-grade endless runners. Yet, that need not diminish those set in less promising universes to a place of inferiority. Goony groups itself in with this crowd, aiming for low targets with a design that sets itself up as a retro-inspired alternative. Even though its intention is not to serve as an entry of a unique accord or distinct league, it still ends up being an example against its will. Taking lightly its position through a clear laid-back approach, Goony is without extravagance and firm direction, and rather than this discretion being a strength, it actually exposes the game to be insubstantial with not a shred of refined traits to respond to.

    Thinking back to your childhood years, did your toy collection ever include a metal or plastic slinky? Picturing times when you or a friend let it run wild down a staircase will give you an idea of how Goony operates. Players take control of a green entity that behaves very much like that toy in its standard form, automatically traveling down an endless flight of cube-shaped stairs. The overall format heavily borrows from arcade game, Q*bert, and line with its inspirations, the game is presented in a somewhat 16-bit likeness, minus any pop-out flair or appropriate enhancements. A familiar perspective style is used alongside remotely disjointed, frame-by-frame animations for the fiery backdrop and cartoon enemies, albeit these are all executed with a less energetic and more plastered look.

    Only left and right commands are used to direct movement, and you can choose between the D-Pad, Y and A, or the shoulder buttons as your form of input. Balls of fire serve as your main obstacle, with each colours manifesting a different pattern. Red flames enter the scene by surprise, moving from the bottom up; blue flames move from left to right on a single row; and purple flames alternate between two squares. Each time you're hit, your character will shrink to a lesser form, until the third strike claims your life for good. To escape this threatening limitation, coins must be collected so that the tenth find will transform you to a different state. The highest level will involve turning into a plane or saucer of sorts to bypass rows and rows of cubes (while coins simultaneously gravitate towards you), thus speeding up the pace considerably.

    Unfortunately, while this all may sound sufficient, in actuality the game's design does not support its ideas well, and much of the fault lies with the pace of things. While the control here is understandable, it rubs shoulders with the obstacle arrangement and layout, making the pace more of a liability than an element producing a tangibly positive impact. The enemies do follow a routine, but there often isn't enough of a window to initiate a strategic response in the necessary moment, and even with fast reaction time, the circumstances just aren't conducive to responses the player will feel comfortable with after the fact.

    It's always the case that when traveling at a faster clip, keeping track of upcoming obstacles proves a bit too unreasonable, to the point where you're forced to purposely land on oil slicks to slow yourself down. This is especially true when breaks in the path start to appear. These are very hard to foresee ahead of time to plan your actions accordingly, and as such, even the earliest and best-timed actions will leave you trapped and unable to escape immediate death. It is for these same reasons that the sudden drop-off that occurs after being airborne is also a setup for failure much of the time. The nonsense that plagues what is an otherwise very basic formatting not only abbreviates the duration, but has a negative impact on the overall design.

    The game is also organized in a silly fashion. Though control is entirely button-based, for some reason there is an icon on the top of the Touch Screen to pause the game, second to the Start Button. Why it's there when the game isn't at all touch-based is beyond me. When you do open up the Pause Menu, though, the top screen instantly uses the camera application for the purpose of scanning QR Codes, rather than having this activated via a menu selection. QR Code creation stems from the game's Block Editor, where you can customize block colours using a basic yet fairly intuitive set of options. Why you'd want to even share these with other players, I have no clue. I could say the same about the ability to take in-game screenshots using the Select Button. There's really no purpose to doing so. Goony also includes a two-player mode where the physical playing field has a defined boundary that both must race to reach first, with one using the D-Pad and the other using Y and A. But neither this nor any of the other above features add valid weight to the package.

    It would be less serious if Goony didn't do a great deal to set itself apart or align itself with the leaders in the pack it's associated with. But from a design point of view, when pitted against the likes of award-winning efforts, it's an endless runner with extremely limited possibilities. The gameplay greatly lacks both depth and zing to its name, making demands that can't be fulfilled to a good and reliable measure, even when these attributes are studied. Frankly, Goony is a rather crude affair, and with it acquiring no desirable qualities to engage with, ultimately it drops to the status of a forgettable endeavour that should be entirely disregarded.

12/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 4/10 - System lacks capability, patterns exist but design and pace hamper, a strain to anticipate and react, flaws interfere with simplicity
Presentation 5/10 - Relatively basic construction, retro inspirations but still lacks flavour and flair, decent enough animation, silly setup
Enjoyment 2/5 - Much more limited than the norm, abbreviated and abrupt, design makes strategic movements uncomfortable, not at all gripping
Extra Content 1/5 - Block Editor for customization with an adequate layout of options, dubious QR Code use, two-player races, nothing adds weight

Equivalent to a score of 40% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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