Jan 7, 2011

Phoenix Spirit

Phoenix Spirit was announced and released a few weeks ago and has been in my review queue since that time. This is a game that, for a start, needs a bit more direction upon startup. I'll be the first to accept that I'm not the quickest when it comes to video games. I often miss the quick pop up boxes that provide direction the first time through. That said, perhaps such games should require acknowledgement if such guidance is important. Consequently, it took me awhile to get going with Phoenix Spirit.

In this game you start off as Spirit, a character that looks like a flying squirrel with goggles, asleep only to be awoken by Phoenix to learn that your friends and the Mother Tree are diseased. Furthermore, you're the only one that hasn't been afflicted... yet. It's the "last man alive on earth" scenario. The music, however, is simply enchanting. I just enjoyed listening to the game's soundtrack for a few before jumping in. The game is controlled by tilt or touch although I stuck with tilt for the review. The controls aren't the best in this game and I found the on screen stick to be difficult to work with despite the fact that tilt control wasn't exactly easy to handle. Because this is a lengthy, goal based game and I'm fidgety I would move around and constantly have to recalibrate based on my new position. Fortunately the recalibrate option is bottom, center on the screen and it's quick and painless to do so. Next, it took me a bit to notice that the yellow dot is the direction of my tilt as the game initially indicates that  it's the Phoenix character that woke me up to provide initial guidance. Once I got that down coupled with the fact that diving three successive times builds up enough speed to really get moving I was on my way and able to explore.

When exploring the game feels much more like I'm swimming versus flying. Minutes later I was stuck again having seemingly explored the entire area and not gotten any further direction. I then noticed the map in the upper right of the screen that reveals areas explored and not explored. Further exploration yielded my first find and that would allow me to cure a disease. Along the way there's these things that look like plants. Touching them is bad as they are afflicted with this rampant infection. Stay away! Fortunately my newly acquired item let's me spray them with a cure... just two puffs seems to do. Once cured these plants heal and some hearts or something floats my way. What do they do? I don't know yet. And I'm stuck again.

Examining the map then revealed different types of things present in the area via the map's key. The writing on it is really, really tiny though so don't try and play with anything less than 20/20 vision. There's a wind tunnel in there that I can't seem to enter as the winds are too powerful. Believe me... I tried and probably spent too much time on it. There's also a diseased tree that my little disease curing token lets me cure and it was onward from there.

qrcodeSo what is this? I read somewhere that it's a Sonic for Android. No it's not. For a start the high paced action that Sonic offered is not here. This is more of an action / exploration type game. The developers claim it's a Metroid/Castlevania kind of game. That's probably a bit more accurate. There are mysteries to uncover along the way and while the game itself is dark (with regard to colors) it is still quite beautiful. My other issue with the game's graphics are that some elements are too small such as some of the text prompts and your character. The above represents my first 20-30 minutes of play and I was about 10% through the game so at my pace this is probably a 5-6 hour game. At a little over $2 this game is certainly worth it and it is enjoyable. If you like arcade games with a trifle of adventure and exploration thrown in then this is for you. 4/5 stars.

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