Looksley's Line Up (a.k.a. Tales in a Box: Hidden Shapes in Perspective)
DSiWare | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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19th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
The entire game is played by holding the DSi system sideways, like a book. From the Main Menu, players can start a 'New Game', 'Continue' an existing game, access the Help manual, or return to the DSi Menu. When you begin, you'll be introduced to a cute, stubby rabbit who needs your assistance to finish his book. What's the book about, you ask? It's a collection of stories based off real-life fairy tales. Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aladdin, and Sinbad are just a few examples of the stories represented in the game. Characters from these fables make appearances in different places within the game. Both young and old will be able to identify some of the references in this game and I think it's great that this is another game that bridges the gap between multiple age groups.
The entire game features an assortment of puzzles that can be accessed from a World Map. You can maneuver Looksley using your D-Pad and when you're above a blue dot, you can tap the exclamation mark located near the bottom of the screen to enter a level. Along the way, you can also talk townsfolk such as the Donkey Ears King and Ali Baba by pressing the D-Pad in the appropriate direction. There are sub-quests that you'll need to complete at times, such as reuniting a band of animals, or helping a sailor find a ship. To do so, you'll need to interact with characters and converse with them using words you've discovered from completed puzzles. It's pleasing to see the amount of effort put into it since they had the opportunity to be a bit lazy here.
Each puzzle stage consists of a diorama and using head-tracking technology, you can tilt your DSi to view the playing field from different angles. If you're worried of this scheme not working after getting burned by WarioWare: Snapped, never fear for the game's controls do work well - provided you follow instructions given at the outset. Just like in Move Your Brain: Rollway Puzzle, players should do their best to play in a well-lit area (whether it be artificial or natural) and, if possible, play in an area where the background is a contrast to your skin colour (and, to a lesser extent, your clothes). When taking a photo, you'll be given two examples on the left to guide you. The photo area will be covered with red and blue-coloured pixels; the more red pixels there are to distinguish your face between the background, the better your experience will be. Taking the time to follow instructions carefully will reap rewards, but those who rush into the game expecting to be able to play in any circumstance will be surprised with the outcome.
within all of the diorama's, you'll find letters that can be used to make a single word. If you manage to find them all, you'll get a message of congratulations, and move onto the next challenge. There's also a series of hidden pictures that you'll need to find if you hope to clear the level thoroughly and earn yourself a flag marker. Don't expect to clear them really quickly unless you have an eagle eye. It's really immersive having to not only combine different stage elements to find a letter, but also to be on the lookout for solutions that involve proper timing or even negative space. For example, in one ballroom stage, you'll need to get down to the proper angle and wait for the figures to stop dancing to unveil a little boy hidden amongst the crowd. Over time, you'll pick up clues from the typographical features of the letters as well as the orientation of the silhoutted pictures. When you think you've found something of importance, you use the D-Pad to move your cursor and press the A Button to check the selected area. And while spamming the A Button won't generate positive results, it's somewhat forgiving if you're slightly off.
There are 13 words to make, and a total of 48 hidden pictures to discover. A small portion of these silhouettes are represented only with a "?". This means that you'll have no clues to help you beyond what you can gather from the picture collection, using a process of elimination. It's quite a task to be sure, especially if you're not very observant. Thankfully, each stage also features a bunch of coins that you can use to purchase tips that can either be clear and helpful or just plain hazy. You can do this from the Pause Menu, accessed by tapping on the Book in the top right-hand corner of the touch screen. Not only can you unlock hints, but you can also take a look at all the hidden pictures and words you've discovered, recalibrate camera settings, read folktale summaries, or head back to the World Map.
From my experience with the game, I found the controls worked pretty well, even when circumstances weren't perfect. Players can even try placing their DSi on the table, turning their heads to control the game and simulating the action of peeping around a corner. If you ever have trouble, you can move to a different location and try configuring settings again. I can definitely sympathize with the fact that the game can be frustrating when you've figured out where something is, but the controls are acting up. However, you can certainly minimize the frequency of these occurences by playing the way you're supposed to. Perhaps it might have been less of a hassle with a lock feature. In any case, the odd times when the game doesn't co-operate are balanced out by the fun of this charming title.
On the subject of charm, Looksley's Line Up certainly has the Nintendo feel to it that pulls you in and makes you smile. The peaceful music is great, as is the fact that many songs are well-geared to the overall theme that exists in each stage. With the exception of Looksley, all characters and animals appear as coloured-in silhouettes without facial features. The look of these figures is something that may remind you of your early school days. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that this game could be seen as one of the titles from the 'PictureBook Games' series.
The entire game took me roughly 3 or 4 hours to complete, but the amount of time it takes you will depend on how good your eyes are (and I've been told that I'm pretty observant). Rest assured that although the visuals have a lovable look to them, the game is anything but easy to complete. There are lots of challenging puzzles, made even more difficult if players don't consult outside help. It's something that's hard to put down, and very rewarding when you make an interesting discovery. Although there's no co-op to speak of, you can bond with family members and friends by having them sit beside you or look over your head to spot things that you're having trouble finding. Clearing all stages with the minimum requirements will allow you to see the Staff Credits, but to complete the game 100%, you'll need to go back and find any remaining pictures. If you manage to find them all, you'll unlock a bonus mini-game where you use your cursor to tap on as many enemies you can within the specified time limit. Once you memorize the patterns and achieve a perfect score, you probably won't go back to it beyond showing someone else.
Looksley's Line Up is an undeniably innovative game. The controls aren't flawless, of course, but how smooth your gameplay experience will be largely depend on paying attention to where and how you play. It's a great idea and it's definitely more engaging than the typical hidden object puzzler. Give the trailer for this game a 'looksie' and if you think you'll enjoy it, give it a go. It's not a long romp, but it's definitely worth the asking price, especially since it'll leave you with feelings of refreshment and pleasure.
25/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Really innovative, puzzles are engaging and fun to search through, controls work pretty well but can act up at times, excellent 3D feature
Presentation 9/10 - Looks lovely, colourful characters and stages, fairytale theme is well-explored, fitting music selection
Enjoyment 4/5 - Lots of fun, can be hard to stop playing, can be frustrating if the player didn't pay careful attention to control setup
Extra Content 4/5 - A good number of levels, can be completed in a few hours, overall a memorable experience for a great price
Equivalent to a score of 83% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)