It’s not often I get to use the term “musical platformer”. In fact, without creating some diabolical contraption to mix Mario and Musical Chairs, it seems unlikely I’ll be using it a lot in the future either.
Fret Nice accomplishes this without the use of furniture, however, as you are able to use your guitar peripheral to strum, pluck or twang your way through each level. It is certainly the first time I’ve used my guitar for anything other than the arthritis-inducing, colour matching Guitar Hero and Rock Band. However, does it measure up to other platforming stalwarts?
I think it’s safe to say there is nothing like a smoothly controlled platformer, and Fret Nice is certainly nothing like a smoothly controlled platformer.
With guitar peripheral in hand, you use two colour buttons – yellow and green – to move your avatar forward or backwards respectively. The tilt, usually the sign of star power incoming (or just your inner rock god eschewing forth), is used to make your character jump in what has to be the most awkward of configuration choices. Strumming delivers your attack whereas the whammy bar is ignored at first, only being used when bigger enemies come into play to force the apex of your attack towards the enemy.
The awkwardness is continued, due to the fact that you can only strum whilst in the air, leading to some frantic jumps as you enter combat. The actual method of delivering your blows, however, is an innovative stroke. Each enemy has a mixture of facial features; some having three eyes and two ears, whereas others will have one eye, one ear, three mouths. As you can guess, the permutations extend rather far. To defeat an enemy, you must play a relevant amount of notes for each specific facial feature your enemy has, which sounds more complicated than it actually is and actually becomes a fun puzzle with each enemy you encounter.
One astounding part of the game is the art, creating a unique style that reminded me of both Patapon and Little Big Planet. The enemies are always a wonderful balance of hideously adorable, and as you play, you gain the option to change your character’s costume or guitar, again ending up with something freakishly adorable.
The progression of the game is handled via medals, such as getting a certain score, amount of enemies or under a specific time for the completion of each level. In doing so, it forces you to replay various levels quite frequently in tedious pursuit. This wouldn’t be so bad if the levels felt like they had different paths to take, or areas you can get to on future replays that you couldn’t on your first, but without any such choices, it becomes nothing more than by the book monotony.
It’s certainly one of the more innovative titles on the Xbox Live Arcade. However, with an attempt at innovation comes the risk of hitting a flat note, missing the beat or [insert your own music related pun].
Regardless of other flaws, it is hard to deny the artistic merit of this game: astounding and beautiful.
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What seems like it will be an innovative joy turns into a confused and clunky disaster.
As the game is based on a musical premise, you won't be shocked to find the sound delightful.
With various medals and unlockables, the diehard Fret Nice player will find a considerable amount to go back for, I'm just not sure such a player exists.
I find it hard to recommend this game on sound and art alone, for those are the only areas where the game succeeds.