Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sonoro TV Review

Sonoro TV, developed and published by Devilish Games.
The Good: Very unique gameplay mechanics, thought-provoking puzzles
The Not So Good: Requires a lot of coordination and precision, no multiplayer
What say you? An original and challenging combination of Lemmings and a platform game: 6/8

MY POORLY WRITTEN INTRODUCTION
One of the things that sets the PC apart from the consoles is the ability to make and distribute custom content. The popularity of user made modifications in a number of games has prolonged their existence (see Counter-Strike). In fact, a lot of developers are providing the ability to modify newly released games in the hope that the community will drive a title to a longer lifespan. User-created content drives Sonoro TV, a platform game where you must edit the level in real time while guiding an assortment of strange creatures to the exit, all the while avoiding the evil D.J. Sonoro and his evil evilness. Does Sonoro TV make itself unique amongst a crowded genre?

GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The graphics of Sonoro TV are minimalist, as the game’s focus is on painting your way through each level. Each of the small 2-D characters are nicely detailed and the game is set against static backgrounds. Sonoro TV certainly has a Microsoft Paint feel to it; I wish using the different paint types resulted in more than just a different color, instead inducing some amount of flair with objects similar to, say, Armadillo Run (another minimalist game). Still, the game’s graphics do their job. The game features some fast techno and rap music that fits the chaotic mood well. You’d figure that a game with a D.J. would feature fairly decent music, and Sonoro TV’s tunes are entertaining enough, although pretty forgettable. Overall, Sonoro TV features exactly what you’d expect for an independent title: graphics and sounds that do what they are supposed to and nothing more.

ET AL.
In Sonoro TV, you will guide your autonomous characters (and yourself) to each exit in the game’s 30 levels, avoiding the evil D.J. Sonoro (I said this in the introduction, but repeating myself makes my review appear longer). This is done by drawing platforms and walls that your creatures will use and (hopefully) guide them to the exit. In your way is D.J. Sonoro, who will be shooting your platforms, destroying them, and capturing any creature he comes into contact with. The game’s tutorial does a good job in showing the mechanics of the game, but it progresses slowly and you can’t skip sections even after you’ve completed the indicated task. Sonoro TV differs from normal platform games in that you must construct your solution, and it differs from puzzle games in that you must navigate the level yourself and you’re limited in your range of construction. Painting is done using the mouse and you can lay down six different types of surfaces: orange destroyable platforms, pink walls, yellow permanent platforms, green jumping platforms, violet timed platforms (that disappear after a while), and blue sticky platforms. You are limited in your construction abilities (otherwise the game would be too easy): you are only granted to have a certain amount of each platform on-screen at once (you can erase unneeded platforms) and you can only draw in a small radius around your character. Sonoro TV requires a good amount of coordination, as you must move your character with they keyboard, draw platforms using the mouse, and keep an eye on the location of all of the creatures and D.J. Sonoro all at the same time. Platform types are switched by either clicking on the icon in the lower right part of the screen or pressing a number key; since the numbers and arrow keys are far apart on the keyboard, this makes switching paint styles during the middle of a game difficult. I would like to see the ability to switch paint types using the mouse wheel. Sonoro TV features a reasonable level of challenge: the game never “cheats” to make it more challenging and the amount of coordination required to be successful in the game is dependent on you. Sonoro TV is very tough but not impossible, as there is a solution to each puzzle and it’s just a matter of coordinating your actions at the right times in order to be successful. Creatures do not move or jump the same as you do, making it difficult to gauge where to put platforms, but that’s part of the challenge. There isn’t much that could make this game any better, other than the possibility of some awesome multiplayer battles over the Internet.

IN CLOSING
Sonoro TV is a well-executed game with an original idea that’s difficult to improve upon, barring the addition of multiplayer. The game mechanics are certainly unique and the overall concept is like nothing else I can remember. This alone is reason enough to check out the game. The level of challenge in the game is appropriate, the interface elements are good, and the style and presentation is nice. Multiplayer battles (either cooperative or competitive) could have been a very nice addition, but we still have a nice little game to enjoy. Anyone who’s been looking for something different should take a look at Sonoro TV, as it offers a unique and challenging gaming experience.