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Let's Catch - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Let's Catch 

WiiWare | SEGA / Prope
 | 1 Player | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote
Related Game: Let's Tap (Review) 
More Related Articles: See bottom of page


Review
17th June 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

Let's Catch marks the very first WiiWare title to be published by SEGA outside of Japan, a publisher many are hoping will continue to support the service with other titles from past franchises and such. That being said, Let's Catch is not a game by Sonic Team, but by Prope - the fairly-recent company formed by Yuji Naka after he left Sonic Team. Let's Catch is a title that coincides with Let's Tap, Prope's upcoming party game for the Wii. Both games are very unique and have a certain appeal to them, with the idea in this game being simply of catching a ball back and forth, a concept sure to raise eyebrows. That being said, does it suit a nice audience on the WiiWare service or has SEGA completely dropped the ball on this one?

    First booting up the game, you'll notice that SEGA really values presentation and that's accurately reflected in the Menu screens, which are easy to navigate and look very polished. The actual environments and the characters within the game look really well done for a WiiWare game and it's definitely one of the most visually-appealing WiiWare games on the service right now. Clearly, the developers were not slacking off when they made Let's Catch.

    As the title suggests, the main premise of the game involves you participating in an outdoor game of Catch, throwing a ball back and forth with your partner. It's a simple premise, yes, but does it wear thin after a while? There is some variety within the game to make things more interesting, so the gameplay doesn't stop there, but does this extra layer of depth add enough to the experience?

    The controls in the game are well-mapped and it shouldn't take too long for someone to get the hang of it. In preperation for a throw, you must hold the Wii Remote in a vertical fashion and press A and B to grab the ball, and then simply shake the Wii Remote and immidiately release the buttons to throw, and apply a bit of spin. To catch a ball, you just have to press A and B at the right time with a follow-through motion. The game reads motions well so when you try whipping the ball at your partner's head, it will go far in the area, just as you'd expect with the real thing. Aiming the Wii Remote is key to maintaining combos and rallies in this game. Although you'd be surprised, it's not so easy to get Perfects consistently and that's all part of the game's enjoyment. This will motivate some to keep coming back, aiming for high scores and trying to perfect runs. There's more depth than you'd realize just from looking at the game's premise and even without Wii Motion Plus (which admittedly, would've been a cool addition), the controls are quite accurate.

    Let's Catch has multiple game modes to choose from. Your first inclination will be to venture into the game's Story Mode which is definitely one of the better modes in the game. It showcases the main gameplay whilst still incorporating some variety to make things interesting. Essentially, you choose a partner to play Catch with out in the park and you learn a little bit about what's going on in their lives while you play with them. As you play and reach certain requirements in the level, you learn even more, to the point where the Friendship level will increase and they'll see you as a trusted friend. The first character you'll meet is Yuto, an underappreciated child who doesn't get much attention from his workaholic of a father, but in time, you'll meet other characters who are not so open, meaning that you'll need to draw them out by reaching higher levels, making good plays and staying in the game. Some of the characters are very open early on and they get really personal with you, which is where the ESRB's "Mild Suggestive Themes" moniker comes in, as some will go on about boyfriends and girlfriends and other personal matters.

    In order to build that trust, making and catching good throws is very key. For each level, you'll have a score requirement, for example, you may be tasked with obtaining 1,200 Points with only 20 throws. You are scored differently depending on how well your throws and catches are, and when you get a Perfect, you'll get another throw added to the counter. Perform Perfect throws and catches consecutively and you'll build up a combo meter. On occasion, a UFO will also fly overhead that you'll be able to knock out of the sky, however only if your ball is glowing after a Perfect catch. Doing so will net you big points, but if you throw a ball at the UFO normally, it will count as a miss.

    Thankfully, there's enough variety within the game's main mode to ensure that the gameply doesn't grow stale too quickly. Hearing about their lives is actually very interesting and it adds to the experience as a whole, to the point where you kinda feel impelled to utter a reply (even a pre-determined one) to their statements. There's even an in-game reference to Let's Tap which is also a nice touch. However, it should be noted that if you never liked the premise to begin with, this mode won't change your mind so be wary of that, as some may find themselves giving up on it early on.

    Moving onto the other modes, Free Play Mode is essentially Story Mode minus the talking between characters, and the game is open up to 2-4 players as well. What's also different is that although the game can be played split-screen, which is really nice since the camera view can be changed to include both players on the same screen and works rather well! This mode also has no restrictions so you can play for as long or as little as you like. In addition to this mode, High Score Mode is also available, and is essentially Free Play Mode but with stricter conditions (like the ones seen in Story Mode). Some players may be spending much of their time here, especially since this is also a multiplayer venture.

    Speed Catch is definitely one of the best modes, even if it is strictly single-player. Basically, you start off with one character passing the ball to you and as you catch the ball, the speed at which they throw the ball gets progressively faster. Additionally, every couple of throws the partner will change - as will the environment. This mode might have you going back to see how far you can get in total, and you may also be good enough to have a hand at playing with a fastball-throwing alien in outer space!

    The remaining two modes are multiplayer contests that help add even more variety to the package. In Nine Trial Mode, you're tasked with with knocking out 9 tiles on a metal board using the ball. This is actually quite tricky, because (as was mentioned earlier) the controls work quite well and as such, you'll need to aim at the panels carefully in such a way that you'll get all of them before your opponents. Bomb Catch Mode is another great one for up to 4 players. Here, each player gets 3 Lives and must pass the bomb around in a game of Hot Potato, with the counter decreasing depending on how good/bad your throw is, unless you get a Perfect, in which case you'll be safe. This mode is pretty gripping and feels like something out of Mario Party, and as such, there's even more appeal.

    As for replay value, the game does a good job at keeping track of all your high-scores in every mode, even in the multiplayer frays, which is great because it will have you going back for more. It would've been nice to have seen something more, maybe in the form of online leaderboards for Speed Catch, but as it stands, it gets the job done; it's just a tad unfortunate that you can't access your records in a separate mode. The game is also very child-oriented and as such, it's great for families to enjoy, which is why it serves a great niche on the WiiWare service, however some may simply find the premise too thin and thus give up on the game as a whole, but thankfully the multiplayer modes add much more to the overall gameplay. The game can almost be compared to the likes of My Aquarium, in that the game is very relaxing and good for those that simply want to unwind after a long day. The music in the main modes is very calming and it's rather nice to see some tunes that won't annoy you just a few times after listening.

    It wouldn't be right to conclude this review without mentioning a couple things with regards to Let's Tap. Let's Catch can almost be seen as an extension of Let's Tap since the gameplay itself seems like it would've been a perfect fit as a separate mode within the game. SEGA has even promised to award special features to those who have both Let's Tap and Let's Catch which could insinuate that Prope originally had other plans with Let's Catch. That being said, when you consider what's being offered in the content department for both Let's Tap and Let's Catch, if they were to be considered together, a price of $39.99 seems to be rather reasonable for these unique party games (as opposed to seeing Let's Catch as a $10 title). It's clear that Yuji Naka has some ideas he wants to explore so let's hope we can see more titles from him despite the sales this game will probably get.

    All in all, there's quite a bit of variety and if it were just 500 Points this game would come highly recommended. As it stands though, 1,000 points is sure to be a huge turn-off for many, especially given what's on offer here. Although the game has some redeeming qualities and an endearing premise, many will find that it doesn't have enough variety to be worth the cost. It's just too bad that SEGA decided to give this game such a hefty price tag, because if it were any lower, the game could be seen as a much more justifiable purchase. The multiplayer modes, Speed Catch mode and the leaderboards all help to add some variety and replay value to the package, however, despite how unique SEGA's first WiiWare title is, it won't do much to draw out older gamers in the WiiWare crowd. I can only hope that Prope will learn from their small mistakes with this title and continue to release titles as part of their "Let's" series, because they certainly have a lot of untapped potential here that would do well to suit some of the niche audience on WiiWare.


19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Simple premise but despite some depth it may wear thin for some; accurate, simple controls
Presentation 8/10 - Very visually appealing and polished, with calming music
Enjoyment 3/5 - Whilst some may find it too simple, younger audiences/families will enjoy it as will those wanting to relax
Extra Content 2/5 - Aiming for high scores and multiplayer extend replayability; promised extras for owners of Let's Tap

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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