Friday, February 26, 2010

Video game number fifty nine: Fret Nice

Video game review number fifty nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Fret Nice".

This game had all the makings of a wonderful idea. Most gamers I know have at least 3 or 4 musical instrument peripherals just sitting around in their living room, waiting for someone to play with them. When you're not playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero, they basically become giant plastic living room ornaments that your wife (or whoever else lives with you) hopes that you will put away someday....but you leave them there, because you never know when it might be time to rock.

The folks who made Fret Nice ask the eternal question: "What if you could use that guitar controller to play a game that has nothing to do with rocking?". They didn't ask me, but if they had...I would have said "Yeah man, that sounds cool...go do it". I also would have followed up with "But please don't make it suck". Clearly, they really should have asked me first.

Fret Nice has all the right ingredients, but somehow...they mixed them together in the improper way and created a crap casserole. This game is your standard platformer (cool), where you have to kill cute little enemies (cool again)...which you can do with either the guitar hero controller or the regular gamepad (very cool). Unfortunately, it's no fun no matter how you choose to play it.

I tried the first level with the guitar hero controller. Learning to strum to kill the enemies took me a minute or two, but once I got the hang of it, I liked it. Learning to jump on the other hand, had nothing to do with skill...and instead, relies completely on the quality of your guitar. All guitar controllers have the gyroscope inside, which enables the feature where you use the "tilt" to get your star power. My stupid gyroscope is broken from rocking a little too hard. Since this game requires you to use the tilt just to jump, I'm screwed most of the time. Some guitar hero controllers have a star power button, which makes jumping easier...but even after to switching to one of those, I can't say it was more fun. It's still a really annoying way to jump. Jumping is supposed to be a twitch reaction, and "star power" isn't really easy to pull off. They should have mapped it to the "A" button or something. You run by strumming, which is also silly.

I struggled through beating the first level using the guitar and then decided to go back and do it with the controller to see if I liked it better. It's hard to believe, but it was actually worse. "Strumming" on a controller is never fun (try playing Guitar Hero with your 360 controller sometime). There's a reason the folks at Harmonix were smart enough not to let you do this in Rock Band. Unfortunately, Fret Nice actually relies so heavily on the guitar hero controller being there that it's not really any fun without it.

This game itself is very simple, so it seems like the main challenge in this game is learning how to control it. That's all right if you're playing a game with DDR or even Tony Hawk Ride, but when you're just trying to play a normal doesn't work. I applaud them for trying to think outside the box, but the game simply wasn't any fun no matter which controller you used to play it.

Overall score: 2/10 and the two is mostly for the great concept here. Unfortunately, it's a horrible execution. I'm really surprised IGN and Gamespot gave this sucker sixes.

I will never play this again.

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