(WiiWare)

Bruiser & Scratch (WiiWare)

Game Review

Bruiser & Scratch Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Does Steel Penny Games debut WiiWare puzzler have that Naughty Dog magic?

It seems only natural that a game being developed by former members of such an accomplished developer as Naughty Dog would garner some serious hype when it's announced. While it's always nice for a developer to get some type of recognition ahead of time, it can also prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes time to judge the finished product. Of course it doesn't help that the game is yet another puzzle title on a service that is already becoming overrun with them. So was developer Steel Penny Games able to transfer enough of the old Naughty Dog magic over to their first WiiWare release to somehow keep it from getting lost in the crowd?

Bruiser & Scratch doesn't try to reinvent the wheel with its simple premise which takes a "less is more" approach to the puzzle genre and crafts a simple yet decently playable title that requires more thinking power than fast gaming reflexes. To play, you take control of one of two characters, Bruiser the bulldog or Scratch the cat (the level chooses the character for you and then alternates between the two as you progress). Both have the same moves, and differ only in appearance.

Your task on each playing field is to push like objects into one another. Once you've pushed all of one type of object into one another they turn into their final form. You then move on to the next type of object and repeat the process until you're left with only final forms. As a last hurrah you then have to line up like final forms to clear the field. At first this is quite easy to accomplish, but as the puzzles progress you'll have to be more careful about which direction you push the objects in, not to mention the order in which you choose to do it. If you leave an object stranded you'll have to restart the level. Once you've cleared a playing field you're given a scorecard that lets you know how you fared. You are awarded trophies and stars based on how many steps and how much time it took you to clear the field. You can even go back and try to pick up trophies and stars you missed the first time around.

There are three modes of play to choose from. Tutorial Mode tosses 11 levels at you to show you step-by-step how to play the game. If you're just starting out, this is definitely the first place you should go, as it can be a bit confusing as to exactly what's going on in the other modes if you don't have a solid understanding of how the game functions. Story Mode is the heart of the game, and presents 48 levels of increasing difficulty. As you complete each one you'll be given bits and pieces of offbeat storyline and animal dialogue that will make you wonder what exactly the developers were consuming when they composed it. The final mode is the Challenge Mode, which dispenses with the silly story and just throws 75 tricky levels at you one right after another. You can even skip ahead to later levels if you're finding the early ones a bit too easy. As a whole these Challenge levels are quite a bit more difficult than the Story Mode levels so you might want to save them until after you've beaten the other modes first.

The play control is mostly straightforward. You can use any one of three different Wii controllers including the Wii Remote turned sideways, the Nunchuk, and the Wii Classic Controller. You move your characters around the playing field in a horizontal or vertical direction using either the d-pad or the analogue stick and use one action button to push the objects around and the other to spin the camera around to get a better view of the playing field.

While this control method is more than adequate, it is a bit disappointing that the game doesn't feature any Wii-specific controls to speak of. It's this standard and overly simplistic control scheme that seems to give the game a very tired feel. It's rather tricky and thought-provoking right at first but the entire presentation become very stale and boring too quickly. It doesn't help that the puzzles go from fairly simple to downright mind-bending in a hurry, which can add a hint of frustration to the already tired gameplay mechanics. Couple this with a complete lack of online play or functionality and you just can't help but come away from the game thinking that it was a wasted opportunity to do something that would better take advantage of the Wii's more advanced capabilities.

The visuals in Bruiser & Scratch are actually fairly solid and show a lot of detail and charm considering they're being presented in a puzzle game. But while the playing fields are well done, all of the empty space behind and below them is fairly bland and generally only a couple of faded together colours that do little to create the depth needed for these types of floating playing fields. Even the two characters, as offbeat as they are, don't show a lot of imagination and at times look like two rather generic video game mascots that someone quickly threw together. Given some of the higher quality visual performances we've already seen on the WiiWare service, not to mention the calibre of these developers, you'd ultimately expect a little more.

The audio aspects are fairly difficult to critique simply because there's just not much to speak of. The overly muted musical pieces that play during the levels can barely be heard most of the time and the sound effects that tend to take centre stage because of this muted soundtrack come off a bit bland. To make matters worse, the sleep-inducing tune that plays in between levels doesn't do much to liven things up either. You can tell that not much attention was paid to the audio presentation and the result is a very lackadaisical musical effort overall.

Conclusion

It's difficult to fault a developer for coming up with a simple and playable game, but when the result is as sluggish and tiresome as Bruiser & Scratch, there's not much else you can do. The game proves that no matter how good a developer's intentions and ideas, if the end product isn't enjoyable, it's all for naught. Gamers that absolutely can't pass up a decent puzzler might get a kick out of Bruiser & Scratch, but if you're looking for something innovative and exciting, you'd be better off looking at some of the more creative puzzlers already available on the WiiWare service, especially given the steep 1000 Wii Points price tag.

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User Comments (44)

kitroplious

#1

kitroplious said:

Interesting review...

Downloaded Bruiser & Scratch on Monday, and I have to say I'm very disappointed in the difficulty of gameplay, it is very hard. It took me forever to get past the first level.

I have to say Toki Tori is definitely a better game over this, sadly.

Robster

#3

Robster said:

Wow, didn't see the 4 coming...very dissapointing, WiiWare is not going out in a big bang at the end of the year. 'Lackadaisical' is a very interesting word though :-P !

VaultBoy

#4

VaultBoy said:

I downloaded it to and I'm not surprised either. The game is disappointing and ceases to be fun pretty quickly.

Jockolantern

#5

Jockolantern said:

Couldn't disagree more with the negative sentiment being leveled at this game. I'm quite enjoying it and the difficulty is the fun part for me; having my brain bent on some of these puzzles and just having to sit back and figure them out mentally is a real treat. Anyone who can't get past level one... really shouldn't be playing a game like this. You're destined to hate it. I simply fail to see how a game being difficult somehow equates it as being "bad." Riven is a hard, hard, hard game... yet it is by no means bad. Quite the opposite.

For those who love having their brain bent by solving intricate puzzles and figuring out how to do them efficiently will have a terrific time with this game. You want music? Supply your own! Games like these don't really require in-game music; it usually only serves to get repetitive and irritating at a certain point. I will, however, agree that the sound design could've used a bit more focus. My primary complaint, however, is that the 1000 price point is a bit much. I'd warrant it would be a much more desirable title at 800 or even 500.

7 / 10 for me.

Wiiloveit

#6

Wiiloveit said:

Ah. Even after the IGN review, I wasn't expecting this. Ah well - better luck next time, SP?

LinktotheFuture

#8

LinktotheFuture said:

It is getting to the point that I want Nintendo to give up on Wiiware, and focus on the VC. Most Wiiware games are a waste of money and harddrive space. Let people download the games that are already out, but we don't really need any more Wiiware.

Starwolf_UK

#9

Starwolf_UK said:

@LinktotheFuture. At the end of the day most VC games fall not so much into waste of money but over charged for what you get.

Both services have two things in common. good games and bad games.

As for this game. The difficulty sounds good but the blandness of the polygons in the package as well as the price put me off :( Oh that and being in Europe where it'll be a few months yet...

gameking23

#10

gameking23 said:

Did not see this coming. Great review Corbie. I hope Cave Story comes out soon at least that game should get a high score.

Draygone

#11

Draygone said:

Wow, only a 4? That's disappointing. I was considering giving it a download. And yet, I wonder. For a person who doesn't really give a crap about the graphics (and actually, I didn't think they looked bad from the screenshots) or the lack of online (does it really need it?) or the lack of Wiimote sensitivity (SSBBrawl didn't have it either, and people still found it awesome), how would it rate?

Ren

#12

Ren said:

I agree about hard puzzlers. Hard games are sadly rare these days, so if a puzzlers is interesting enough with it's variety, then hard should not be a detractor, but rather a positive. does seem a little boring though.
Also, I agree about the pricing of WW games. I think everything should be a little cheaper. They're all pretty short and not as polished as other games, and it's not like it's tough to make a profit since they're easily visible to every online wii consumer immediateley. I think they should all be priced down a notch.

KnucklesSonic8

#13

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Totally unexpected score!
Glad I'm enjoying it at least and rest assured, this game IS hard.

Online functionality? The only thing I'd see is Leaderboards and even that would be stretching it a tad. That seems a bit unreasonable especially since this is there first dip in the WiiWare waters.

And yes, 800 would've been better.

Some of the complaints I agree with. But as was mentioned, audio isn't a huge thing. Sometimes I listen to my own music anyways.

@Draygone: I'd say the game should get a 7/10 in my books.

The game is very difficult and in many ways it IS a breath of fresh air to experience such challenge since Toki Tori. I'm not that far in the game simply because it's tough and you really need to think.

I hope this doesn't discourage the ex-Naughty Dog employees though! I would love to see more from them in the near future! I hope you can hear this! This game is enjoyable and just like Plattchen, it almost didn't deserve the score it was given. Your mileage may vary. If you keep an open mind about it, you'll enjoy it a lot more.

@Jockolantern: Well said my man. Well said. :)

CorbsAdmin

#14

Corbs said:

While I love a tough as nails game, I am a huge fan of the bullet hell shooters after all, I don't think the masses share my opinion. And in truth I didn't really take off any points for it being difficult, I just thought it was worth mentioning to those who are easily frustrated as the puzzles do get very difficult after you've beaten about 20 of the Story Mode levels. :)

Ricardo91

#15

Ricardo91 said:

I expected better from former members of Naughty Dog. For shame.
1000 points is a bit steep, so I won't take the risk and try it out for myself.

Great review by the way! :)

worrybomb

#16

worrybomb said:

Good review Corbie. I was hoping I would be wrong in siding with IGN's review of the game but I guess some of that Naughty Dog magic didn't transfer to B&S. Here's to hoping Steel Penny gives it another go.

As for bullet hell shooters, I do love Bangai-O Spirits and I'm hoping Ikaruga will have a special price discount during Xbox's Deal of the Week throughout all of December.

CorbsAdmin

#18

Corbs said:

@ worrybomb - I too love Bangai-O Spirits and Ikaruga. I was sure hoping that the Dodonpachi games and Mushihime-sama would make it to Xbox Live Arcade but MS shot that down and now they're only being released as Japanese retail releases. I finally broke down and just bought an import PS2 system from Play-Asia so I could have some of the later manic shooters.

Jason_Hughes

#19

Jason_Hughes said:

Thanks for the positive comments, those of you who bought and enjoy the game. Corbie called it like he saw it, and so did IGN. And I respect that.

It seems people think that developers are making a killing off you guys. This is simply not the case. The WiIWare market is really small, compared to Live Arcade or PSN even, both because so few people know how to hook up the Wii to the internet, and so many who do are unwilling to spend anything on new games. Sad as that is. If anything, you should expect games to be more expensive to compensate, especially from independent developers. Big companies have years of shipped products to draw their code and art from. We have to start from ground zero. So it's more expensive, and takes longer. Simple as that. This is why so many indie devs go bust right after their first game ships.

If we let some of you down, I'm sorry. Bruiser & Scratch was our first game, and we wanted to start small and deliver a lot of gameplay per dollar. We achieved that goal. I hope we have an opportunity to make a second title for you.

ACK

#20

ACK said:

I kind of get the impression that even Steel Penny questioned the merits of Bruiser & Scratch's underlying game design, which almost always dooms any project. What I mean is that significant effort was apparently spent dressing up the simple, rather homely gameplay with stylized 3D graphics that have little effect on the actual entertainment value.

In my opinion, this concept would have been better served by a more basic, possibly 2D interface. As it stands, the 3D environments are nice and all, but add so little to the gameplay that they border on irrelevant. Likewise, the namesake characters are just plain unneccessary and frighteningly unappealing. It's one thing to design these characters, but to actual render them in 3D... Well, I just don't know what to say about that.

Actually, the biggest reason to question the decision to focus on visuals is the (as Corbie put it) "lackadaisical" aural experience. I understand Steel Penny was trying to give the game a little character and I appreciate that; however, the result had the opposite effect on me as the whole experience felt just a little soulless...

All told, the game is really nothing more than a collection of block-pushing puzzles, which of course could be presented any numbers of ways. Still, compelling music/sound design is at least tantamount to visual presentation in this sort of game. And Steel Penny definitely dropped the ball in that regard.

Considering that this is a WiiWare release, the mandate regarding visual presentation is generally less is more... And that is especially true when I'm left watching relatively detailed graphics in awkward silence.

Wiiloveit

#21

Wiiloveit said:

Nice to here from you, Jason, and it's good to know that you may come up with another WiiWare title, because judging by your previous Naughty Dog work, your next game could be a real gem.

EJD

#22

EJD said:

I expected this to get a 6 or 7, shame it didn't live to the hype.

This goes back to what I said on the Hockey Allstar Shootout review. Constant disappointment. :( Looks like it won't be such a good Christmas for WiiWare.

KDR_11k

#24

KDR_11k said:

One thing you often see with low budget games is simple graphics. It looks like B&S was designed to have good graphics but aside from cost they don't seem to do much. On WiiWare the standards are much lower for graphics and yeah, 2D presentation would probably not have hurt the game.

Supermarioman

#25

Supermarioman said:

I love underdogs for some reason, I'll try to download Boingz, Plattchen, Major League Eating,and oddly enough The Incredible Maze, well maybe not the last one, but not this one, not my cup of tea.

Objection

#26

Objection said:

Lots of low scores in a row after our pattern of lots of 6-8s before that. Still, I've only downloaded WOG since August. I really should get another card. I wish developers would flood the market with platformer/adventure games instead of puzzle games.

Draygone

#28

Draygone said:

I always love it when a developer comes and comments on their own game's review and what people are saying about it. It's like, "wow, we're actually speaking with a person who made a professional video game!" Especially nice when they give developer insight like this.

EJD

#29

EJD said:

@Wiiloveit: I haven't forgot about World of Goo at all; I can't wait for it to be out but I don't think it will be out before Christmas. I'm expecting us to get some of NA's good games early January.

Clayfrd

#30

Clayfrd said:

@Corbie - This is pretty far off topic, but how highly would you recommend Ikaruga? I'm making a modest attempt to get into the shmup genre (very modest), and I like what I've seen so far, but I've heard so many good things about Ikaruga that I'm considering getting it for XBLA or GameCube. Probably XBLA since it's cheaper, but the longevity of a 360 makes me worried; that is, I don't want to get a terrible lot of multiplatform games only to have my 360 RROD after Microsoft has stopped supporting the 360... This is certainly an issue for DL games if there is any encryption like with WW/VC games.

@supermarioman - Why? The closest I've come to doing something like that is committing to get Sonic Unleashed (I don't have it yet, but I plan on getting it). Why would you get a game simply because it is bad?

CorbsAdmin

#31

Corbs said:

@ Draygone - It's great unless you're the one that just ripped their game apart.

@ Clayfrd - Ikaruga will be like getting thrown into the deep end of the pool if you're not a seasoned shooter fan. It's tough. Brutally tough later on so prepare yourself. That being said, it's one of the greatest shooters ever made and still to this day one of my favorites and the XBLA version is fantastic.

If you're feeling adventurous, do yourself a favor and pick up a used import Sega Saturn console and Dodonpachi. Now that's one hell of an introduction to the shooter genre. :)

shadows262

#32

shadows262 said:

speaking of Sonic Unleashed I cant wait for Sonic and the Black Knight! It looks fantastic.

Clayfrd

#33

Clayfrd said:

@Corbie - I don't mind hard games as long as they're not unfair. As long as it's my fault that I died, it doesn't bother me. I was thinking about getting another couple of shooters on VC around Christmas as well. Does it have to be an imported Saturn? I already have an American Sega Saturn. If it does have to be imported, I'll probably pass, but if there are any shooters that work on a North American Saturn (or any Nintendo console, regrettably the Saturn is the only Sega console I have, but I've got everything but the Virtual Boy in terms of Ninty), please let me know and I might check them out. Are there any easy shooters that don't lose entertainment value as a result? I want some challenge, but I'm certainly not a veteran in any regard, so if there's a good shmup for n00bs, let me know. Thanks.

Edit:
Actually, any suggestion for the Saturn would be good. My library is virtually nonexistant. I don't even have "NiGHTS".

lockelocke

#34

lockelocke said:

@Clayfrd
As Corbie said, Ikaruga is super tough, but I wouldn't let that dissuade you from checking it out. The incredible "polarity switch"/combo system that drives the game is so fun, that you'll find yourself replaying the first level over and over, trying to nail the perfect run. Or at least I did, I didn't even SEE level 2 til like 6 months into owning the game.

@Corbie, or whoever really
Speaking of better WiiWare puzzlers to choose from, does anyone have any feedback of which is the "best" (I do hate that word) ArtStyle game? Personally I like more manic puzzlers like Tetris Attack.(Still waiting, Ninty!)

Twilight_Crow

#35

Twilight_Crow said:

I was expecting a 6 for this one, what a shame, well at least is not a 1.

@Clayfrd
When talking about shmups I consider myself a n00b too, so I really recommend you to get Ikaruga, is one of my few shmups and as hard as it is I've enjoyed it very much, that game is the proof a hard game can be enjoyed by n00bs if it's good.

Jockolantern

#37

Jockolantern said:

Great to see Jason Hughes posting in these comments. I love it when developers take a serious, hands-on approach to their gaming market and get involved with the players themselves in these kinds of discussion threads.

@KnucklesSonic8: At least the two of us appear to have good taste in this ongoing Bruiser & Scratch discussion. ^_~

megatron

#39

megatron said:

i was very disappointed with this download. i wish i had waited until i read this review.
i had wanted to get tiki towers, but when it wasn't released, i figured i would pick up another puzzler.

i can't stand the audio. it seems like an after-thought that was just tacked on.
i don't mind the look of the levels, but i really don't like the look and design of the menu screen.
the characters do nothing for me.
i don't like that i have to read the dialog. it just feels too much like something that would have been cool ten years ago.

i'm hoping the whole atmosphere will grow on me as i put more hours in, but so far i'm really just not getting into it.

the difficulty of the puzzles actually hasn't bothered me... even though i am stuck at (i think) level 10. if it gets so hard that i can't figure it out, i'll just look it up online. i don't think there is anything wrong with puzzles being that hard. but i might change my mind if i get later into the game.

mostly, i'm pissed that this was 1000 points. like others have said, a lower point amount would make the game much more attractive.
if i had only paid 500 points for it, i would probably not be bitching about the lack of quality audio.

SilentJ

#40

SilentJ said:

I've had more time with this game so I have to say it's not as bad as I originally thought. What I like are the actual puzzles and gameplay. It's a very simple concept and is very challenging. I like these type of puzzle games where you can just sit there and let your brain try to solve the puzzle without having to worry about a time limit.

This game would have been better if it had been released as an ArtStyle game with simple graphics and a low price. What I can't stand is the audio and the characters themselves. While this game is challenging, I feel like I'm playing a game meant for children under 10. I actually turn down the volume on my stereo so the neighbors don't hear that annoying little tune after you complete a puzzle. And what's with the weird bird chirping? It's just a bird chirp but it sounds horrible. You can hear this weird static backround noise whenever the chirp comes in. I'm also not fond of the dialogue you have to read. I don't mind reading but who wrote that stuff?

So, the actual gameplay grew on me. I don't regret downloading it. I just wish it had a completely different look, sound, and price.

brooks83

#42

brooks83 said:

This is a great game people, if you even slightly like puzzle games you should give it a chance. This review is way too harsh.

Zandaxar

#44

Zandaxar said:

I have twice played this game all the way through. The difficulty of puzzle #12 is an outlier. The characters and story don't really come together but that is not the point of this game. The point is to figure out abstract puzzles in a relaxing whimsical setting and for that I can say it is one of most enjoyable thinking puzzle games I have played on WiiWare:-)

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