Review – Widgets Odyssey
Developer: Frima Studio
Publisher: Frima Studio
Release Date: July 6th 2010 | June 16th 2010
Price: $1.99 | £1.74 | €1.99
What I Liked:
- Cinematics and Writing
- Good idea
What I Disliked:
- Imprecise gameplay
- It’s Short
- Could’ve been a contender
Widgets Odyssey is a puzzle-platformer in which you guide five different robots through their interstellar journey to stop the evil Yagor from destroying the universe. The levels are split up into planets, and on each planet, you control a different robot. Actually, there are four planets (not including the “mini-game”, but I’ll get to that a little later); the first level quite literally combines two of the robots into. The game was developed by Frima Studio, the creators of such PSN Minis as Vector TD and Zombie Tycoon. Considering Frima’s Minis pedigree, I expected Widgets Odyssey to be better than it is.
The game begins with a cut-scene that introduces the main characters and lays out the story. The opening cinematic is characteristic of all of the cinematics in the game in that it’s bright, colorful, and funny. The writing for the game is what really stuck out to me. It may be funny the sort of way children’s movies are funny, but it’s funny nonetheless. Some examples of the humor come in the names of the characters: where Cruella DeVille (The Disney villain) is a cruel, stuck-up bitch, Monk, the ship’s mechanic, is slouched and resembles a monkey. Other innocent-type humor comes in the form of the cinematics: one of the robots “teleports” by being slungshot (or is it slingshotted?) at a planet. In another cinematic, one of the robots exclaims, “Anything for a lubrication job and a change of oil!” That one elicited a chuckle. Still more clever writing comes in the form of the names of the levels: Blade Roller (Blade Runner), The Fifth Elemonk (The Fifth Element), and Planet of the Trash Apes (you can figure that one out on your own). Unfortunately, the game can’t stand on the merit of its cinematics. Once you get to playing it, things go wrong.
I’m aware that the game is targeted towards a younger audience, so I tried to be patient and forgiving while playing through it. The platforming is competent, if regularly imprecise, and the puzzles aren’t too difficult. However, I often had a “what now?” sort of feeling while playing through. The levels aren’t big enough to get lost, per se, but there were several instances when I repeated the same actions, wondering what to do to progress, and where to go to do it. This problem arises partly from the fact that interactive objects are indistinguishable from their surrounding artwork/environment. The graphics are fine, especially for a Mini title, but you can’t easily distinguish between what’s strictly scenery and what’s not.
In episode 3, there’s a screen where a giant flamethrowering robot guards an oil can. Every time I leaped over the robot and procured the oil can, I fell through the level and was forced to quit and restart. After about the fifth try, I found a way to attach to the wall and not touch the ground but still get the oil can. Regardless, that’s a pretty big bug for a pretty mini game. The next level, Monk’s stage, is probably the best. Following then connecting pipes to spray water on robots was fun, even if the difficulty is a bit stunted for the youngins. The only “mini-game” comes after the fourth level, when you are tasked to escape a trailing ship in the form of a side-scrolling shooter. It’s bad. The ship is barely maneuverable, making it impossible to dodge enemy fire, and the mid-air mazes are okay, if unvaried.
I tried hard to like the game. The cinematics are sharp, the narrator and writing are on point, but the gameplay is rough and imprecise. It’s short, and the replay value is basically absent. It reminds me of a late nineties, clearly kid-targeted Gameboy Color game. Not unplayable by any means, just lacking of the want to play it.