First Impressions: Breaking Out With Siesta Fiesta on 3DS

We also chat to Stuart Ryall as release details are pinned down

Siesta Fiesta is a title that we've been keen to play here at Nintendo Life, with the title earning a spot in the Spring Edition of our biggest 3DS games of 2014 feature. A title first profiled — seemingly out of nowhere — by the Nintendo of America booth at IndieCade, it promises a great deal with 60fps Breakout-inspired action, but with plenty of individual flair of its own. When a studio states that it's combining the block-breaking genre with ideas from physics puzzle titles, pinball and platformers, you know you're in for an interesting experience.

We've previously published an extensive interview with Mojo Bones, but recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with an advanced build of the title — as we played we also chatted to the studio's Stuart Ryall, who expanded on some of the points covered in that previous interview.

Jumping into the first stage, the initial sensation is of minor sensory confusion, as our childhood full of simple arena-based block-breaking games was immediately disregarded courtesy of a steady — yet nevertheless relentless — scroll from left to right. Our early efforts primarily involved trying to keep out paddle (actually a bed) relatively central, before we then started to worry about tackling the blocks above. The pacing felt just right, in that we had the perception of being rushed along while — in actual fact — there's plenty of time on offer. A point made on multiple occasions by Ryall is that, even with quite a lot of content that stretches beyond 50 levels, motivating the player to replay levels seeking better medals is key. In our early runs we were rather stuck between bronze and silver rewards, with Gold being a rather 'hardcore' standard — like the genres from which it takes inspiration, however, it's easy to see how practice and familiarity will shake up the experience and prompt dedicated players to chase top scores.

To the developer's credit, it's given players every opportunity to master the mechanics. First up, Siesta Fiesta delivers on the promise of rock-solid 60fps performance, even with 3D enabled. The stereoscopic effect is subtle, pushing into the screen with just the occasional example of scenery in front of the bed, and does add an extra dose of flair to some fairly impressive visuals; 2D may be the desired option for those interested in chasing gold medals and wanting to focus on nothing but the action, but when experiencing the game first-time or simply as a fun diversion, the effect is welcome. Whichever option is chosen, the clean, crisp graphical style is appealing, and considering some of the shoddy efforts we see on the portable system it's a relief to play a game that proves, for those that have doubts, that the 3DS is capable of attractive visuals with above-par performance.

Controls worked nicely in our time with this title, too; with all meaningful action on the top screen, using the stylus on the bottom screen provides the best option for the quick, occasionally lightening fast, reactions that are required — anyone who's tackled Kid Icarus: Uprising will be familiar with focusing on the top screen while working the stylus to control the action. In a neat touch, physical control options are also on by default, so you can choose one over the other or actually combine the two. The Circle Pad is unable to match the stylus for paddle control, though the boost — in which you bounce the ball higher — can be controlled with a timed tap or a button. For the sake of simplicity we used the stylus exclusively, yet there's potential to combine stylus and button presses for greater precision.

We played a decent selection of levels, meanwhile, which are split into themed worlds — once again inspired by that old platformer principle, we were assured that even in these worlds environments would be varied and keep the player interested. In addition to some stylish backdrops, each area we sampled also threw up new mechanics. Blocks formed from water are simply passed through, switches enable others, there are explosive targets that set off chain reactions, and more besides. Our flirtations with combos were limited due to our own painfully mediocre execution, yet as time wore on we did feel a natural familiarity begin to take hold — initial uncertainly gradually replaced by instinctive semi-success. Even if we were still mastering the specific mechanics, we began to naturally think tactically, vital in some areas where avoiding deadly blocks is as important as hitting others.

In our time with the title we also played through a couple of boss encounters, another shake-up to the core sources of inspiration. The first world boss was a simple concept, a continuation of the initial gameplay. The second from a later world, however, showed us one of the alternative beds / paddles, as it was actually a cannon fired manually — our main job was to catch and aim rather than continually manage the ball. As an indication of how new items and mechanics will diversify the experience, it was a particularly fun stage.

As we've suspected in the past, this feels like a potential sleeper hit for the 3DS eShop. Mojo Bones' experience in the smart device markets — though the team has worked on Game Boy Advance back in the day — seems to be a key strength. This is a title that would feel too lengthy and full on for a phone, yet has a level-by-level intensity that will suit short play sessions. Driving you to hit new high scores for medals is a standard smartphone trick, yet this is still a dedicated gaming device title through and through, with surprising depth beneath its multitude of design influences. It seems to push a lot of the buttons — of slide the stylus, at least — that fit the core requirements of what makes a fun, engaging download title.

Mojo Bones has now confirmed to us that Siesta Fiesta will arrive worldwide on 24th July, priced at £3.99 / €4.49 / $5.99. You can see plenty of footage in the video below, in which the studio's Stuart Ryall also talks about the title in a mini-interview. Please excuse the occasional silly question or lame performance on our part — the game had us somewhat distracted.


Be sure to check out our other hands on features from E3 and the post-E3 event in London: