|System: PS3 (PSN), X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Pieces Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 4, 2010 (XBLA-TBA)||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Super Mario Bros. might have been the first significant and memorable platforming side-scroller, but that doesn't mean someone can't break the rules! Tecmo has brought a new platforming adventure to the PlayStation Network, and who knows? They might even bring it to Xbox LIVE later on - at least, that's the plan. In the meantime, if you own a PS3, you might want to take a look at this one. Why? Because it can be fun and it's quite unique! Unlike standard platformers, this game can be controlled with one of those guitar peripherals you might have collecting dust in the closet.
Sure, we've seen our share of indie games in the past couple of years, and at some point, one has to learn to distinguish between good indie titles and those that are better left for the über-alternative gamers. However, this was an ambitious project, and the fact that the game is controlled with the guitar makes it special. Of course, as you know, not everything with unconventional controls is going to boast great results, but it's at least a good try.
If you look at Fret Nice, you'll be surprised by the distinctive art style. It features both artsy-crafty and lifelike textures at the same time, in addition to flat, cutout shapes that are put together to form fun and exciting platforming environments - the perfect scenario for this rock-a-billy adventure. The amount and variety of levels will take you to plenty of scenarios worth exploring. The characters, with grungy hair, tight jeans, and fancy boots, will make you giggle, and the fuzzy, bouncy, frowzy enemies are to die for literally. Think South Park meets LocoRoco and LittleBigPlanet and you've got Fret Nice: a cool-looking game indeed.
Sticking to the standards of a traditional platformer, Fret Nice is a side-scrolling adventure that involves lots of running, jumping, rope climbing, and enemy-smacking. Springs will launch you in the air, floating, moving platforms will take you from one side to the next, and switches will open up gates and give you access to new paths. The controls, far from traditional, want you to hang the guitar on your shoulders and hit the yellow fret button to go to the right and green to go to the left. Wanna jump? No problem! Just tilt the guitar as if calling for star power, and your little rock-and-roller will make the leap.
Dealing with foes is also quite distinct; you have to strum different color notes depending upon the enemies' facial features. Three eyes? Three strums of the same color. Two antennae, one eye, and a mouth? Two same-color strums, and then two more of different colors. While button-mashing might do the trick in earlier levels, it's always best to stay focused and avoid missing notes, as that'll result in a higher score and shorter level completion time, plus you don't want the enemies to go away while you're at it. At the end of the levels, you'll be awarded medals for clearing the stage, timing, enemy kills, and score. If you don't receive enough medals, you'll have to get back to work on the current levels, as the following ones won't be unlocked yet.
Fret Nice also includes plenty of secret areas, hidden characters and tips, bonus stages, boss battles that make you use the skills you have learnt, and even a store where you can buy new clothing and accessories to customize your character at the end of each set of levels, in addition to other items to help you advance through the adventure. As you progress, new platforming features are added, with vehicle-powered levels and all.