Posted by Corbie Dillard
Does Boingz offer enough unique ideas to stand out from the crowd?
With the recent success of such innovative titles as World of Goo and the Art Style series, it comes as no surprise to see yet another unique offering pop up on the WiiWare service. Boingz takes the simple Wii Remote-friendly gameplay idea of stretching and flicking and attempts to build an addictive experience around it. But in an increasingly crowded puzzle genre on the WiiWare service, does Boingz have what it takes to stand out from the crowd?
The basic idea is simple: the Boingz resemble a rubber band in both design and physics. Using the Wii Remote, you can grab on to their antenna and stretch them at varying lengths in order to release the antenna and watch as they fly through the air. You can control how far they flick as well as their trajectory by stretching them in different directions and angles. You do the majority of your navigating around each level using this flicking method, but you can also move your Boingz around the old-fashioned way using the Nunchuk stick. To add further depth to the experience you'll can also interact with certain objects in each level ranging from rocks to elevators. You have to make use of these various objects to safely guide your Boingz to the exit gates in each level, at which point you are be given a grade of Gold, Silver, or Bronze depending on your overall score. Points are awarded for picking up twinklies, rescuing individual Boingz, and finishing the level as quickly as possible. You can even go back to completed levels to gain a higher grade.
There are no hazards that can kill your Boingz; instead, the challenge lies in actually guiding them to the exit. You have to learn how to use the various Boingz together in order to traverse the many challenging levels that lay in store. Many times you can't get through certain sections of a level with only one Boingz, which will force you to track down sleeping Boingz in each level so they can work together to reach the exit. As you can imagine, the levels start out quite easy and soon begin to get extremely tricky and challenging as you progress through all 30.
While the gameplay idea of Boingz is unique, the implementation is not terribly good. The control system itself is intuitive in design, but it showcases an erratic nature which makes the game very frustrating when you can't get the control methods to perform the way you want them to. Sometimes the Boingz will flick high into the air when you stretch them all the way back, and other times they'll barely come off the ground. Aiming can also be very difficult as the arrows that point the trajectory can sometimes be deceiving or change at the last second as you let go of the character's antenna. The Boingz are also very loose in their movements so it's sometimes difficult to judge when to stop them on ledges as they'll often continue to move forward if you're not careful. There are some great gameplay ideas here, but the play control ultimately feels very unpolished at times and could have used some tweaks here and there to make the game a bit more playable, especially given the intricacy that's required in many of the later levels. The lack of multi-player support or online leader boards doesn't help matters either.
The visuals in Boingz are yet another facet that lacks the type of polish you'd expect of a current generation title. Not only is there a serious lack of detail and texturing in the surroundings of each level, but the polygons themselves lack the smooth edges we've come to expect from some of the higher quality WiiWare releases so far. Even the Boingz themselves don't show any detail and look like flat polygon blobs that someone painted two eyes on. Maybe we've all become spoiled by the silky smooth visuals of games like World of Goo and LostWinds, but after playing some of the better WiiWare offerings so far, it's clear that Boingz just doesn't stack up very well.
As if to keep with consistency, the audio presentation is pretty much as mediocre as every other area of the game. While there are plenty of sound effects to keep things interesting, many of them don't sound like they fit in with the overall theme of the game. The cute humming the Boingz will unleash when you leave them unattended for a few seconds is probably the most impressive sound aspect of the entire game. The musical tracks that play during each level are extremely basic and tend to feature more percussion than actual melodies. This is one of the reasons the sound effects play such a key role in the overall sound presentation. While the sound effects are adequate, you can't help but feel that a little more attention to detail might have been able to add a lot more charm and personality to what ends up being a fairly bland audio experience overall.
Boingz is a classic example of a very unique and original gameplay idea that's ultimately ruined by its poor execution. There's no denying the almost limitless potential the premise behind Boingz has going for it, but the erratic play control brings the experience crashing down along with it. The package has a very rushed feel to it, as if the developers were so excited about their original idea that they hurried to throw it all together before someone else could beat them to the punch. The sad truth is that no matter how much potential Boingz has going for it, in the end it feels like nothing more than a thrown-together attempt to cash in on the WiiWare service. It's just a shame that such an innovative idea had to go to waste in the process. While there might be a few gamers that will be able to overlook the sluggish interface long enough to extract some type of enjoyment out of the game, most people will likely find the good points of Boingz too heavily overshadowed by its negative aspects to get their money's worth.