Review: Ethan Meteor Hunter (PS3)

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Title: Ethan Meteor Hunter
Format: PlayStation Network Download (669 MB)
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Seaven Studio
Developer: Seaven Studio
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
Ethan Meteor Hunter is also available for PC.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Gameplay:
Hunting for meteors can be quite dangerous, especially if you’re a mouse. Ethan’s adventure begins when an argument with a nasty neighbour is interrupted by a strange green meteor shower, which luckily gives our hero some special powers and a desire to find the unearthly fragments.

Those special powers are your average telekinesis and the ability to freeze time, which comes in handy a great deal during the many puzzles in this game. There is a nice gradual pace to the puzzles and kids especially seem to have lots of fun trying to solve them.

The game is spread out over three areas, each with their own theme. You can easily replay areas to get all the meteor shards and a better completion time. The perfectionist would have to not lose a single life, as doing so means you lose one of those shards. I quickly gave up on trying to get 100% in this game as it’s all too easy to kill your character. Thankfully every death instantly brings your character back to the start or checkpoint, there isn’t any waiting around in this game.

One of the biggest selling points is its use of physics which, for the most part, is great and very satisfying. However in a few puzzles the physics are so precise it makes the game harder than it should be. You have to be spot on with the placement of moveable pieces, something which the younger audience may get frustrated with.

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There wasn’t a single moment in which a puzzle became illogical, just very occasionally annoying. Once I got used to the controls which are simple enough, even for my old feeble mind to master, I had a lot of fun playing the game. Some friends popped around and watched me play, giving me advice on some of the puzzles usually with some funny results, normally involving poor Ethan’s demise.

There a few levels which mix up the formula and have you in a little craft shooting various things, or a pogo bouncing climb up to the exit, precariously timing every jump to each platform trying not to touch the bottom of the screen; which leads to another life lost and a restart of the level. These levels are not as enjoyable as the standard levels and can become very annoying, especially for the younger player without the recall needed for the enemy or obstacle layout.

Visuals:
An uncomplicated side scrolling platformer which doesn’t push any graphical boundaries and is slightly reminiscent of LittleBigPlanet. The camera pans back when necessary and the frame rate never stutters.

Ethan’s idle animation kicks in a bit too soon and often for my liking, if left alone he falls asleep. It feels like our poor little hero is narcoleptic! I’ve only noticed that because I’ve spent a fair amount of time staring at some of the puzzles, trying the figure out the most efficient way to progress.

Audio:
The constant buzz and crackle of electricity when you were close to an outlet did get annoying. That was my only issue in the audio department. For some strange reason I did enjoy the sounds of the poor little mouse being crushed, burnt and electrified. Musically it’s great, with the pace of the soundtrack intensifying in frantic situations.

There is a brilliant echoing effect when you pick up shards or bounce on a spring pad and helps you feel like a tiny creature traversing a great cavernous area. It all fits well within the environment and enjoyment of the game.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
Ethan Meteor Hunter has a large amount of puzzles, some of which are tainted by a few frustrating occasions where the physics require a degree of precision which some younger players would struggle to achieve. Nothing special visually but it does retain a welcome simplicity and uncomplicated feel which helped me concentrate on the puzzles. I doubt you’ll come back to this after completion but it’s a fun platformer with some inventive mind-benders.

Score:
7.0

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