First Impressions: G.G Series: Tetsubou

Arcade gymnastics

You have to give credit to developer Suzak for the work it's done with the G.G. Series. Whilst most of the games are interesting takes on traditional genres, it also likes to throw out the occasional brand-new concept, like Tetsubou: a game which could be best termed a "gymnastic puzzler."

Players are presented with a multi-screen playfield consisting of a start point and a goal with the object being to guide your humanoid robot avatar to the exit picking up any gems you can on the way. The trick? You need to flip between X-shaped structures that you swing around on, using precisely timed releases to make your way to the end.

You'll start out on the ground in early levels, pressing a button to jump up and grab the axis of any structure within reach. Next you press Left and Right on the D-Pad to build momentum until you're able to swing around 360-degrees, which is indicated by an orange swirl. Once you see the flash of orange, simply continue to hold the D-Pad in that direction to keep swinging about; after a couple more swings and corresponding coloured flashes your robot will have built enough momentum to continue swinging until you press the button again to release, flipping through the air until you (hopefully) reach the next structure where you'll continue swinging in the opposite direction.

It's a rather novel concept and when you time it right, leaping from point-to-point, fully tucked-in and tumbling through the air like a cannonball, it's quite exciting; less so when you miss and fall all the way to the ground. You'll want to try to grab all the gems for big points (aiming for the highest number of "perfect clears" on the high score board), but the requirement to reach the goal in under three minutes will temper that enthusiasm. You only have three lives to play with, which will be lost if you run out of time or hit a hazard. As you progress through the stages the playfield will get larger (you get to move the camera about before starting in order to plan your route) and you'll encounter lethal electric barriers to evade. It's the kind of game where you can have pull off a brilliant run that gets you to the exit with seconds to go, or fritter away entire minutes attempting the same leap over and over again.

The visuals are minimalist and appealing, with a wireframe look to them. The black background has lines moving about as if tracing invisible circuit patterns giving the game a Tron-like sensibility and the robot animations are excellent. It's not the kind of game we plan on playing a lot, but it's nice to see a developer trying something new and (largely) succeeding; we certainly feel it was 200 Points well-spent.