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Puffins: Let's Roll - DSiWare Review

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Puffins: Let's Roll

DSiWare | 
Other Ocean Interactive
 | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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19th July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Puffins: Let's Roll is the first in a series of DSiWare releases that have been extracted from Other Ocean's retail release, Puffins Island Adventure. It seems that many a critic had an issue with the core mechanics, and the poor reception led to its downfall as a release. Perhaps hoping to draw newfound attention on Nintendo's digital service, the developers have priced each of these offerings for only $5. Unfortunately, the initial release may have done the very opposite effect, potentially discouraging gamer from purchasing another Puffins title in the future.

    At the heart of the game, there are a total of 18 levels that act as obstacle courses. The idea is to guide a sensitive egg to the nest at the end of a level. Where's it's mother, you ask? Standing at the finish line - apparently she's too lazy to do it herself. But questionable activity aside, you must maneuver the egg around a slew of traps that threaten to destroy its shell. On the top of the touch screen, you have a damage rating that goes down with each hit that the egg sustains. So long as you reach the goal without cracking the egg entirely, you'll advance to the next level. 

    In order to get it to move, you'll need to make strokes using your stylus in a repetitious motion. As the egg is rolling, you can adjust the camera with the D-Pad to help you make necessary turns. And using the Up and Down arrows, you can adjust the camera viewpoint and place it directly above, or make it so that you can see directly ahead of you. Initially, you'll be scared to cause harm to the egg, so it's only natural for you to stop and take your time. 

You'll even need to solve puzzles in order to advance beyond certain points, so the game isn't not just about clearing hurdles. So for example, in order to lower a crate or a bridge, you'll have to use the egg to push a switch on that will get a crank moving. Other times you'll need to cross pools of water to cross gaps, and the stream actually makes your egg roll a bit faster than normal. Later levels also have geysers which can send your egg up to a ledge higher up, or even shoot it really far off into the distance. Sure it was unrealistic, especially when it landed in a hole perfectly without any cracks whatsoever, but it was also somewhat humorous.

    Multiple seasons and even different times of day are depicted in the game. And this not only translates to a variety in visual presentation, but this also has a bearing on what kinds of obstacles will you'll encounter over the course of a given stage. Trees, clumps of leaves, and wooden logs are just a few examples of some of the things that can slow you down. You'll also need to watch out for pumpkins and snowmen which act as bumpers you'd see in a pinball machine. 

    Overall, the levels look just okay - nothing more, nothing less. Same goes for the repetitive music. There were some points in the game that seemed a bit sloppy, though. For example, if you rotate the camera by holding Left or Right on the D-Pad while the baby Puffin comes out of its shell, the cracked pieces look like they're floating in the air, which doesn't look very good. On multiple occasions, the framerate went down significantly after I crashed into an obstacle - as if the game wasn't already slow enough at a normal speed! As if this wasn't enough, I even fell through the floor at one point, and the egg was seemingly falling into a pit of nothingness.

Because you need to be gentle when taking care of a baby, the game's slow pace does make some sense. But this focus towards making the gameplay realistic, ultimately results in a game that suffers from a severe lack of enjoyable gameplay. After one or two levels, you'll want to pick up the pace, but the rate of acceleration prevents you from doing so. The only way to make the egg travel a wee bit faster is to hug a wall as it rolls, but not even this improves the speed well enough to make the game fun to play. The idea of making lines with your stylus repeatedly to induce movement is something I've never really been a fan of. I found it wearisome with the Snowball Slalom mini-game in SM64 DS, so needless to say I grew sick of this control scheme, and this game.

    The game also has a second mode where you go through levels trying to collect as much Capelin as possible. This was definitely worse than just racing to the end of a stage, simply because the game became even more tedious and slow. Whichever mode you play in, each level has a set of requirements that you'll need to met if you hope to earn a trophy. But I can't see a child forcing to subject themselves to slow-paced levels just for meaningless awards, even if they are fairly forgiving.

    Puffins: Let's Roll is devoid of fun, plain and simple. The thing is, the entire layout isn't broken or anything; the game is just really tedious and boring to play. If the game wasn't so slow, then I might be able to see some kids having fun with this. But with this major design flaw in mind, I can't possibly encourage parents to buy this for their kids.

14/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 5/10 - Setup isn't bad, some puzzle elements, the slow pace and the amount of stylus input involved ruin the game
Presentation 5/10 - Framerate dip is terrible if and when it happens, levels look alright, repetitive music, a tad glitchy
Enjoyment 1/5 - Might be fun for maybe 5 minutes but nothing more than that, gets really boring, tedious control scheme
Extra Content 3/5 - Medals to unlock, a second mode to play in but honestly, I can't see anyone bothering with either, definitely not good value

Equivalent to a score of 47% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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