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ROTOHEX
AQUIA

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PiCTOBiTS
BOXLIFE
BASE 10

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ZENGAGE
precipice
DIGIDRIVE

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Rotozoa

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light trax / lightstream - Wii (WiiWare) (May 24, 2010)

Title

It’s not necessarily a very important point to make, but does anyone reading this by any chance know about the Satellaview, you know one, the Bandai Satellaview. Okay, facepalm all you want, but the same dumb mistake in which many people believe that the Nintendo Satellaview is by Bandai, happened with light trax. People run around saying that it is a remake of dotstream, and that’s understandable since ORBIENT and ROTOHEX were remakes, but have these people seen footage of both games, perhaps played both games, or better yet, looked at pictures of them? Obviously, this mistake won’t end with one article, but light trax is in fact a sequel to dotstream, and not a remake. Ending that tangential thought, let’s pull out some evidence to prove this, as this article is now headed that way.

The gameplay is still very much strategy based, but the levels don’t always move left to right, they often break into the third dimension as the camera swerves around the 45 and 90-degree turns along the way. Slipstreaming was altered for the better, so it no longer slowly makes your beam accelerate, but instead fills a boost meter that can be used at any moment during the race by pressing 2. The abandoned pit stops are gone, so any hearts (life boosts) that can be nabbed are scattered on the track. Nice thinking on the developer’s parts since the pit stops were too time consuming, and the courses become a bit more of a challenge when one is positioning themselves to snatch any of the hearts. Reduced-speed zones, dash, slowdown, and lane-change panels are still used, and so are the dash and star items, but not the “bomb” item. This may have been because the star is a better way to deal with obstacles. Sometimes there are also blocks that can be scaled upwards right before crawling back down them as a type of slowdown zone.

The “light races” are structured a little differently with only fifteen of them total, and five cups with three races each. The cups are lumina, spectra, intensa, radia, and brillia; this translates, left to right, to clever and traditional stage design with radical 3D perspective changes, over to, clever but almost disorientating three-dimensional stages with ramps, sharp turns, squiggles, and all the rest. The constant change of direction can easily be a flaw for some, as the forever up and down movement of dotstream is now always changing, but it really shouldn’t be a problem.

Formation mode is gone as well, so no more pixelated orchestras and painful packet collecting, and instead you can be a standard racing game speed demon in “freeway” where the game mechanics work a bit differently than the race tours. It’s not only enjoyable to go against the time limit and rack up a high score by slipstreaming past lines, but “freeway” is actually the game’s mode of transportation. So after you finish a light tour in first place, you’ll need to jump onto the freeway and get to the next sector before the time is up.

In the “freeway” mode itself, you can travel in and between the sectors and pass multicolored lines to increase your time limit. The circular areas loop around with really nice decorative effects to see on the sides of the road (loops, pillars, stars, etc.) until you’re ready to leave the sectors, so it’s like going around on a nice sightseeing trip in this digital and manmade world. Points are added to your score while you gain distance, pass lines, and head to the specified sector for a “destination bonus” (gives you a great sum of points and extra time to tour), and the higher the gear you are in, the larger the point bonuses will be. As a result, there are many moments when you need to slipstream and cross through opponents’ turns in order to build up these faster gears without taking damage from hitting other lines. 50% of a gear is taken from getting a hit from the sides, and a full gear is taken from hitting the back of the line (you are also automatically set to the lowest gear where you can’t take any damage until you raise it again).

Using a picture from the game’s digital manual, it’s interesting to see the freeway’s layout as one large circle that branches onto the routes for each sector, with each of the sectors themselves (as mentioned earlier) being a loop. There are two roads to enter one of these sectors and two roads to exit, and so the game calls the sectors that are directly next to one another, “primary sectors” (e.g. radia and brillia), and the ones that have a sector in between, “secondary sectors” (e.g. lumina and radia). This gives the freeway more of a star-shaped look to it, and although this is not exactly important to know, it may prove helpful or just demonstrate how much touring can be done in “freeway”.

After finishing the brillia tour the “hyperlight tour” is opened. In this mode every light race is done consecutively with the freeway mode portions included. Enough time isn’t given to get to the right sector without needing to pass by as many multicolored lines as possible, and not making it will cause you to forfeit the first race of the respective tour. After completing this mode “cruising” is added (and the credits as well). Here you can cruise on the game’s freeway (without any scores) for up to thirty minutes with either the normal gameplay, no damage taken, no NPCs on screen, or the energy meter full.

Strangely enough, Skip still did not create a multiplayer mode for light trax (as that was not done in dotstream either), and it may have been due to the six dollar price point or the strategy gameplay featured in it. If so, that’s understandable when you only get faster by slipstreaming your opponents, and unlike dotstream where the trails of your opponents are left behind for the entire lap, the lines in light trax are short enough to fall behind the ends of them. Yet given Skip’s then-current talent, it’s strange to see a game in a genre that is normally heralded for its exquisite competitive multiplayer not get the proper support it should have had. And yes, most of Skip’s creations are single-player bouts, but when the bit Generations series was being experimental in its multiplayer approach by using the Game Boy Advance’s wireless adapter, it’s a slightly disappointing realization to see only ROTOHEX, DIGIDRIVE, and BASE 10 with versus modes. Again, it isn’t easy to make a battle mode in a game, but when the single-player modes for them are already great in and of themselves, the two or more player’s experience should follow almost naturally with its enjoyability.

In the end, light trax has two main gameplay modes just like its predecessor. However, unlike dotstream, the extra mode does not get repetitive quickly, or at all really. While the first game was very much a portable masterpiece, light trax is more of a masterpiece overall. It gives this feeling of control in a digital world where the simplest creations can have so much personality. It is, in fact, a sequel and not a remake, so play it without worrying about managing seven lines at once, or telling people that it’s made by Bandai as a satellite-based server for millions of Japanese citizens during the late nineties. Seriously, a reimagining makes sense, but a remake, really?

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Skip

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


light trax (Wii)

light trax (Wii)

light trax (Wii)

light trax (Wii)


Additional Screenshots


Rotozoa / Penta Tentacles - Wii (WiiWare) (Jun. 21, 2010)

Logo

It’s a good thing that this game was not created and released on Steam by an indie developer, because if it was it would probably be called “Primordial Goop Simulator”. Thankfully it wasn’t, and even if it was it would still be an awesome tentacle-based action game. So here we have Rotozoa, the last game in the Art Style series. With an opinion, it could be said that this is the best one in the series, but with games like these everyone has got to have their own personal favorite.

Rotozoa stars the titular Rotozoan and asks that you move it around the playing field, spinning its tentacles when necessary and absorbing Goobugs with the tentacles of the respective color in order to extend them. Of course, the twist is obvious, hitting a goobug with a tentacle of the wrong color will break off that tentacle right at its point of contact; accompanied by a painful and instrumental “pop” noise. The circle in the center of your Rotozoan (the life force) also loses one point when hit, and this makes things a double negative of sorts, since you are not only keeping track of growing tentacles, but also just trying to survive the game’s onslaughts of goobugs.

That’s where the silky smooth controls come in, because unlike all of the other Art Style games on the Wii, Rotozoa lets you use a Wii’s Classic Controller which gives you a surprisingly large number of ways to play. The Rotozoan can swim with the L-Stick (D-Pad on the Wii Remote) and spin with the R-Stick or L and R shoulder buttons (1 and 2 on the Wii Remote). For those who happen to have a Classic Controller, it will feel like a necessity to use when compared to the feeling of playing the game with Wii Remote’s D-Pad. This is simply because of the difference in the amount of speed one can have with an analog stick; instead of button presses.

In terms of power-ups, there are heart items to replenish your health, items that can condense parts of a tentacle if it gets too long in “Endless” and “Snake” (consolidating either five, ten, or twenty segments), and the cyclone. The cyclone makes a small ball of energy circle around the player while spinning in one direction continuously. Once it charges up all of the way, the cyclone attack can be used by releasing the spin. The rotozoan will be temporarily invincible and will snag any goobugs it hits, but the catch is is that an “All Clear” ranking on a level is not given unless the player finishes a level without taking damage or using a cyclone attack in the same run. It’s fine that you grab the cyclone item, just don’t use it.

In the stages of Rotozoa, you are trying to reach a certain uniform length for all the limbs of the rotozoan, and possibly shooting for those extra achievements. Once a tentacle has reached its target length, it’ll grow a white bulb at the end of it and will not break when hit. Despite the tentacle being indestructible, it still counts as damage when hit and a point of health is still lost. The formations the goobugs assemble themselves in get more complex and generally harder to confront as the game progresses; different types of goobugs appear as well and every kind has a different way of swimming around in the field . The stages are arranged by the number of tentacles being used (two to five), and at first only fifteen stages will be opened for the two to four tentacle stages. When those are finished the first five levels of the five tentacle levels are opened, and after those are finished the sixth and seventh levels of each tentacle number are unlocked. Yeah, watch out for that last level, it’s not easy, and neither are the other later levels, which goes to show a really nice and steady rise in difficulty. The colors of each limb go from red to yellow to blue to white and ending on green, but slightly more informative is the fact that the best time records are saved, and as always there are no online leaderboards; just local.

The next gameplay mode is “Endless”; any of the four tentacular options to choose from are unlocked by playing the first level of each stage. Per usual, the goal here is to get the highest score and maximum tentacle length. Since the mode is point based, the combos you rack up are shown by a word in the top-left corner and go from “GREAT” (x2) to a maximum of “UNBELIEVABLE” (x5). These are then multiplied by the number of segments on the growing tentacle. Progression through the game is done absorbing a certain number of goobugs in an attack wave. A counter in the upper right-hand corner shows how many goobugs are left to be absorbed (in small white dots) before moving on the next wave; where each wave will have different types and formations of goobugs. This mode and “Snake” both use the consolidation item, and instead of losing all of the segments inside of the compressed portion when hit, it just comes undone.

The third mode is “Snake”, a variation of “Endless”. In “Snake” you always have two sides, one with a tentacle, and the other being a translucent side that never has a growing tentacle. The translucent side can destroy any enemy that hits it. However, when hitting a goobug of the rotozoan’s color you’ll be knocked back pretty far, so that could be hazardous when you are surrounded by several goobugs of the wrong color.

Despite them really just being backgrounds seen in the stages elsewhere; the unlockables for “Snake” are called “skins”. Although they are an unnecessary extra, they are great to have on hand as an incentive to play more of the stages, since “Snake” has only one given way to play when once again the goals are the same as in “Endless”.

Rotozoa is home to some of the best artistic approaches for any Art Style game. The backgrounds are fluid (no pun intended) and everything within their parallax scrolling movements are lifelike, odd, and just plain mesmerising to look at. It really helps with the personality of the game and the seemingly natural movements of the rotozoans and goobugs; it’s elegant in its own sense of the word, and that really takes a good realistic bite out the strange beauties of the world. The music, of course, is another vital counterpart of the game. The sound designers and composers at Skip stopped at nothing to make Rotozoa an atmospheric trip through none and many cultured sounds in the same instance. Seriously, the quiet fading in and fading out of atmospheric synthesizer hums, the taps and slaps of African drums, and the plucked riffs of the Japanese koto and shamisen truly define the game all at once, yet still demonstrate none of the true gameplay experience.

With this game and any other from them, it’s a bit sad to see that after Rotozoa, Skip only created Snowpack Park (WiiWare, 2010) and two games featured in Wii Play Motion (“Flutter Fly” and” Pose Mii Plus”, 2011) before falling silent for longer than their normal development time gaps. When they reemerged it was clear something was off, in fact, many of their staff members were gone and the team was filled up with many new members. This wouldn’t have been a problem with 2014’s Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder which is actually a decent return to the roots of the series. But who can begin to imagine the interior hell that arose when it was decided that Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash (2015) should even exist? It’s not a bad game, frankly it's okay, but with the near perfection and personality of every other game by the team, it’s really an example of many executive misfires here and there only to end with a little known team with somewhat recognizable games turned inside out.

Ending on a lighter tone, all of their games are awesome, easily accessible, and are worth a try. Skip isn’t quite gone yet, so we’ll find out whether they have something else that shows their spark once again.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Skip

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Rotozoa (Wii)

Rotozoa (Wii)

Rotozoa (Wii)

Rotozoa (Wii)


Additional Screenshots


Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
ORBIENT
CUBELLO
ROTOHEX
AQUIA

Page 2:
PiCTOBiTS
BOXLIFE
BASE 10

Page 3:
ZENGAGE
precipice
DIGIDRIVE

Page 4:
light trax
Rotozoa

Discuss on the Forums!

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