Calling shotgun on the Lovely Planet
The original Lovely Planet hit our screens to much fanfare back in 2014. It was great fun, what with speedy movement, complex levels and an eye towards skillful shooting. Lovely Planet Arcade is not exactly a sequel, but rather a remixed form of its predecessor with a similar execution but different focus.
In it, players navigate a series of flat, miniature courses that take but a few seconds to complete. Between you and the exit lies a handful of bad guys (green-skinned and wearing pink do’uns), obstacles, and the odd innocent bystander who triggers an automatic game over if shot. Make it to the end by eliminating the enemies with your trusty, omnipresent shotgun and then move on to the next level. Shots are instant-kill hitscans, for both you and the enemies. It’s really simplicity personified. And it’s rather habit-forming.
Familiarity with the previous game is not necessary, but if you’ve played it, you’ll know that Lovely Planet takes a decidedly different approach from most other first-person shooters. There is no blood and gore, and gone are cramped corridors and sterile space stations most commonly associated with the genre. Instead, players navigate through a brightly-colored world reminiscent of paper popups, with simple geometry, no outlines, and no shading. It’s as if you’re playing a Japanese children’s show, complete with upbeat music.
But be warned. The visuals, cute though they may be, are a façade that hide a truly difficult and demanding game. Unlike its predecessor which had a distinctly more platforming bent, Lovely Planet Arcade is all about quick skill shooting. Tight movement and impeccable precision are the order of the day, as your performance is judged and a score out of three stars awarded. It may not sound like much, but getting a three-star score takes considerable skill and patience, even on the early levels. Establishing a flow and learning by trial and error really is essential here.
Planet and simple
Difficult as it is, it’s hard to truly get angry with this game. I could knit-pick about cheap enemy placements or invisible hazards, but none of these are game-breaking and are easily avoided once a player is familiar with the layouts. Ultimately, whenever you die – which is a frequent occurrence – it always feels like your fault and not the game itself.
More than anything, what sets Lovely Planet Arcade apart from its shooter contemporaries is its deconstructionist approach. It’s purposely bare bones, not even featuring vertical aiming, and focusing strictly on shooting fundamentals. Those seeking a deeper experience won’t care for its style, but I found it endearing. There’s something pure and attractive about stripping an FPS down to its basics, and it’s gratifying to shave off extra seconds in a bid for those ever-elusive stars. It has that “just-one-more-try” charm and is great for a quick coffee-break grind.
All you need is Lovely Planet
In an ocean of dark-themed first-person shooters with realistic graphics, Lovely Planet Arcade is a surprisingly refreshing entry in the genre. Its bright colors, simplistic visuals and high difficultly come together to create a pretty unique experience that is oddly addictive and satisfying. It’s definitely not for everybody: if games are art, then Lovely Planet Arcade is to first-person shooters what Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was to paintings. But take it for what it is and you’ll be having yourself a right little blast. Grab it by navigating to its Steam page here.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Windows and Linux), Mac ; Reviewed on: PC ; Publisher: tinyBuild Games ; Developer: QUICKTEQUILA; Players: 1 ; Released: July 22, 2016.
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Lovely Planet Arcade given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.