Review: Lovely Planet (PS4)

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Title: Lovely Planet
Format: PlayStation Network Download (134.3 MB)
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: tinyBuild
Developer: QUICKTEQUILA
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Lovely Planet is also available on Xbox One, Wii U, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
In the Options menu the control settings are “look sensitivity”. That’s it. That’s all you’ve got. It is clear the game makers have a very specific idea about how to play and they aren’t really interested in your opinions about it. Refreshing! Play the game and shut-up. I like that.

There is an option to play with no timer. As this game’s leaderboards are often about how long it takes to finish a run, you should maybe not turn that off. Except if you want to do trial runs but even so, what if your trial run is a freakishly fast run which you may never be able to recreate?

This is precisely why, on film sets, rehearsal for camera is often filmed. There may be a spontaneous revelation had by even the greatest actor which cannot easily be recreated! As a professional actor and director I have to say that capturing that first moment of discovery is monumental. It can win Oscars and audience’s hearts! Way long story short, never play with timer off!

L1 snaps your aim to the target. You’ll need that for speed. R2 is for leaping. With R2 you can leap much farther than by pressing the Cross button.

You’re going to want to go as fast as you can while killing all the baddies and then exiting the level in order to dominate the leaderboards. I say “killing” but actually you’re shooting squares at the baddies while a manically cheerful woman sings “I WANNA LOOOOOVE YOU!!!” in the background to a decidedly Harajuku-esque disco tune.

It’s kinda perfect. At first. But as with any repetitive, video-game pseudo-J-Pop, pseudo-chip-tune 64 bar music it wears out its welcome eventually. Thankfully you can always listen to something else instead because the sound isn’t that important.

… The apples are maddening …
The movements are a variation on the themes of floaty, zippy, and snappy. The control scheme is unorthodox with floaty and snappy mapped to triggers L2 and L1 respectively while R2 is for firing. Zippy, or movement, is the left thumb stick while the camera is controlled with the right thumb stick. And don’t forget to hurry!

If you fail in a level you will usually be zapped right back to the beginning unless you get stuck somehow at which time you may use the Square button to start over.

There is also a built-in cheat mapped to the Triangle button which will give you a preview of what the level entails. I say “cheat” but really it’s more of a seemingly innocuous view of a few enemies and where they lay.

Go ahead and hit that Cross button to start the level. The apples are maddening. If they hit the ground before you shoot them it’s an instant level restart. And that’s only early on. With one hundred levels over five worlds, to quote Whoopi Goldberg’s dubiously Oscar-winning performance in the film Ghost, “Molly, you in danger, girl”.

Visuals:
The opening graphic clearly shows the Space Shuttle sitting on all its rocket engines. I don’t know why. I miss the Shuttle program and how it was replaced with, basically, nothing. I think it’s a kitschy Japanese thing.

Because I’m old I not only don’t get it but I don’t think it should become some “silly touchstone” of a bygone era. Further, the developers of this game are in Holland and Seattle. Not Japan. So are they trying to emulate Japanese cultural ideas?

… start with the original music for some flavor …
The graphics are very simple and the enemy designs are well done.

There just isn’t too much to discuss here graphics-wise. The accompanying materials indicate that the game runs at sixty frames per second. So the rudimentary shapes are easily seen. There are many colors. You can see the game if your eyes are open. Yep, that sums it up.

The graphical fidelity is really not why anyone would play this game.

Audio:
When the game loads you are smacked in the ears with what sounds like an N64 Zelda game soundtrack. There are elements, like some of the percussion, which seem imitated by someone making sounds with their mouth. (HEY EDITOR: A relative of mine used to be able to play the song Popcorn by hitting himself in the head and proving what we later discovered to be true, it was empty. HERE IS A TIME-SAVING LINK – blahhhh-blaaaaahhhhhh tick tock) http://popcorn-song.com/ (HEY REVIEWER: My wife and kids thank you for your chrono-sensitivity. Fortunately I edit these in a basement, so that helps.)

The Options menu contains a Music Off choice. You should start with the original music for some flavor. But you’ll probably want to use that option eventually. If you’re better at this game than I am, hint: you are, the music may not bug you at all because you’ll zip through the levels. Each area has its own tune.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

… adds so much complexity …
Conclusion:
This is one of those sweaty palms games, from when controllers were simpler and less filled with tech. During the PS2 era I owned a third party controller with fans which constantly blew cool air over my palms. For Lovely Planet I needed PS Nation’s Gamer Glue!

(FAKE) ADVERT:
Do YOUR hands become slick with perspiration during a particularly nerve-wracking game-play situation? Was your favorite Until Dawn character hacked-up because the controller slipped? In Lovely Planet did the apples keep hitting the ground and restarting your level over and over annnnnnd over?! Well kids, fear no more! Slather some PS Nation’s Gamer Glue on your trembling las manos and grasp victory from the jaws of defeat! To quote Glenn Percival, *Patent pending, patent pending”. (Always wash Cheetos dust off your hands and towel dry before applying.)

Normally I use far more words in my reviews. The thing about Lovely Planet is that it doesn’t need a lot of words. And though the music may become tedious and the graphics are not stellar, the gameplay is terrific!

Lovely Planet begins simply. It has to. It’s going to add elements on top of elements but like any video game it begins with simple tutorial levels. Then it progresses to such a degree and adds so much complexity that what you thought was a runner combined with a first-person shooter is also a timing-puzzler morphing into a punishing heart-shaped box of DEATH!

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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