Like Sonic Adventures 2, this is another resurrected title from back in the days of the Sega Dreamcast. Indeed in some ways, there are similarities to the title but in other ways it's as different as can be.
The premise of this title is that dreams are powered by something called Ideyas. Ideyas are good things, they keep us safe in warm fuzzy dreams. Only when there is a shortage of Ideyas available to us, do dreams become nightmares. Suddenly Ideyas have been vanishing and it seems that some dark power is responsible.
For reasons that are not made clear, the task of saving the day (or night?) as it were, falls on the heads of two children, one male, one female. In their dreams these two kids adopt an alter ego and go into the dream worlds, to set the Ideyas free.
Now this is not some remake of a Nightmare on Elm Street! No, because the dream worlds are seen as islands. Each island has more than one course to traverse and your task, whilst controlling either character, is not to run around like a manic blue hedgehog, but fly (or should that be glide) through an aerial obstacle course.
The game won't have you jumping through hoops but it will have you soaring through them, whilst collecting blue orbs. These orbs are the keys that unlock the cages that the Ideyas have been trapped in. Collect 50 orbs, then hit the cage and release the Ideyas.
Once done, then if you have been quick enough, you'll get a time bonus stage, where the blue orbs become gold stars and you now have to 'race' as fast as you can to collect them to improve your rating. Once you have completed one track, it's onto the next without pause. If you have enough energy from those orbs, then you keep going. You'll get to a place where you can tag in the other child and off he or/she will go onto the next.
But run out of time and you'll find yourself back in your normal form and running across the ground instead. This provides an entirely new challenge; run, collect the orbs that are on the ground (some are low enough to be collected by jumping) and try and stay clear of the alarm clock that's chasing you. Yes you heard right, an alarm clock. If this catches you and traps you in it's light, then you'll wake up and you'll have to do it all over again.
You can attack the clock by dashing into it, and if you avoid or 'stun' it enough then the dream will resume and off you go again as your dream alter ego.
But it does not end there, once the four tracks are completed (or however many there are on each island) you get returned to what seems to be the real world, but it's clear that you are still asleep but something big (and supposedly nasty) can be seen heading your way. Yes it's a boss fight. Fly and then time your dash attack (press A and B together) to stun it and take away it's health.
It sounds simple but isn't. Mistime the attack and the blighter grabs you, spins you around and throws you away from it where it will resume hunting you down.
The whole thing has a surreal feel to it, to reflect the dream like quality of the game.Controls:
You soar or glide by using the left stick to control the climb, dive, and looping (you can pick up points for aerobatics during the bonus time stages) and flying through the hoops, to chain the moves together and rack up those points. Press A and B together and you'll perform a quick dash. Pressing the right trigger will slow you down so you can perform those tighter turns, at least that's the theory.
Steering the character can be a problem as I have discovered and the rest of the controllers buttons serve no function at all. No laser guns, no weapons or power ups here to blast away enemies. Just that dash attack to knock enemies down or aside.Graphics:
Graphically it looks a-okay. No real complaints about them. There's no great textural details as this is an arcade game after all. Lighting and shadows are simply rendered. Trees look like trees but not graphically rendered to a great degree. It's adequate, eye candy and detail are not really required for this game.
Indeed if you want, you can play the HD version or play as it would be presented on the old Sega Dreamcast console. If you do then be advised, the play screen area shrinks, it looks more blocky as you would expect, but you will find that the full screen presentation is the best way to go.
However there are areas where the background becomes a hindrance. During boss fights for instance, if thrown towards a wall, then the screen can become full of wall, and you cannot see your character. Sometimes one edge will bleed into another to the point where one zone can be seen through another surface. It's like having Superman's X-ray vision but sadly is nowhere near as much fun or as useful.Music:
A lullaby type theme runs through the game, all tinkly bells and pianos. It soon fades into the background as you are too busy running the obstacle courses to be aware of it. It's OK but does not stand out although it does suit the mood so I guess it's job done as far as that goes.Physics:
Not much to comment on here. Collision detection is a-okay, but that's about it. Characters either respond to impact with obstacles quite harshly, or shrug it off as if bothered by an insect. Again it won't bother or concern the age group that this game is aimed at, and us older gamers won't be too annoyed either, then again we won't be singing their praises from the rooftops either.
There's no voice acting or dubbing here, in fact no dialogue at all. This means we don't get to know the characters, understand their motivations or feel in any way attached to them at all (I know this may sound like nit picking, and yes I am aware that this is no Mass Effect 3) but I am of the age where some connection to the main character matters to me. To me they are just two animated characters, that you guide through the games mazes and tracks, and through the different environments but that's about it.
So it's a game set in a dream world, so maybe the plot and the details perhaps seem a little odd, but to be honest, the story line and the game action comes across as being a little too much "What the heck is this all about and what am I doing? Where should I be going?" You will get to grips with the plot (such as it is) and the controls given time, practice and more than a little patience. But the main problem comes when you think, I must have done enough to clear that island. Surely now I have faced the boss and even though I lost, then it will just let me take him on again?. No. You are dropped off at the beginning of the island again, and have to go through the whole surreal experience again and if you fail, then yes back to the start you go.
It becomes a grind and a somewhat tedious one at that. I applaud the games imagination to some extent, but the repetitiveness of the game begins to tell and tries the patience somewhat. Yes there were times when I thought OK one more go, but it gets to the point where you think, darn it there are better games in my collection and you'll be hitting the quit button and going for something else.
It's aimed at a younger audience, but I wonder how many very young kids will want to stick with it. It's no Sonic, or Mario where the game more than encourages you to keep going or have another go if you lose a life. It's not made clear as to what is really going on and that lack of detail may not matter to some but to me, it just had me scratching my head in puzzlement from time to time.
Does this game merit attention at all then? Yes and no. It is a distraction I suppose from your Modern Warfare games or your Darksiders, or the latest zombie blasting survival horror game, but I feel it won't gain your attention as much if you are old enough to enjoy the more adult games, and for your younger players then it may just confuse and annoy the living daylights out of them.
If I am going to have a character going through hoops to reach the end, I'd prefer it being small spiky and blue and seemingly having a point to the tale and and end objective where it's clear what you are supposed to be going and to what you are doing.
The game is a bit of a puzzle, but not in a Tetris style way. It's confusing, frustrating, peppered with moments where you can say "Yes! Did it!" but these seem to far and few between. It tries to please the young and the older gamer, but ends up falling between the two markets, without hitting the mark with either one in my mind. If you disagree, and think it may deserve a higher score then feel free to disagree and comment, but this is how I feel about it. I find I can spend my waking gaming hours, playing something far more satisfying.