(DSiWare)

Looksley's Line Up (DSiWare)

Game Review

Looksley's Line Up Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Zach Kaplan

Great idea marred by a crap camera

Lookskley's Line Up should be a near-perfect game. It's beautiful, immersive and inventive. It fails, however, to perfect the area in which it innovates, and the experience suffers as a result.

The game does something quite creative with the system's hardware, and that's to use the camera to track the player's head. It recreates the experience of looking into tiny papercraft worlds, and when you shift the DSi in your hands, the perspective shifts as well. This is done by taking your picture at the start of each session until you achieve a shot that allows the game's contrast detector to correctly pick out your face from the rest of the room. Objects near to and far from the foreground change their relative visual placement and line up in different ways, and the player spots selected silhouettes of pictures and letters. For example, an odd section of fence might line up with the paint on a house to form the letter A. The player moves the target to the spot with the D-pad and clicks a button to select it. Things get complicated and ever more delightful as people and animals on looped motion patterns populate each stage, creating new shapes as they cross paths. It's all very lovely and amusing. Every area contains about three or four pictures to find and one complete word.

We have to commend Good-Feel Co. for creating something so unique and ambitious as their head-tracking technology. Unfortunately, ambition alone cannot support such a function, and what results is an experience largely determined by the contrast of the player's face with their clothes and surroundings. Wearing the wrong shirt, sitting in front of the wrong wall or laying on the wrong couch will make the game virtually unplayable. Riding the bus with a window behind your head, the background and lighting continuously changing, won't do either. Once you've found the perfect spot, shifting your system also shifts its dual screens, sometimes casting an unfortunate glare onto the playing field and limits your ability to play outdoors. It is beyond frustrating to try to peg the correct outline as the screen jerks around, attempting to pinpoint the player's face. On the other hand, if you so happen to naturally play in the right setting, you'll never go through such an annoyance. This limitation drastically affects the experience, and could easily have been remedied by an adjustable contrast meter for the camera or some way to nudge the perspective in a certain direction. If you have a favourite time of day or location for playing your DSi, you might have to adjust your habits to try Looksley's. On the other hand, it might work out quite well for you if the conditions align.

It's such a shame, because otherwise the game is fantastic. Each stage contains a good amount of silhouettes to uncover, some easy and others quite difficult to locate, and scattered about the environments are plentiful coins with which one can buy hints. It makes sense that these are more than abundant as only those satisfied by the simplicity their clues afford will put them to any use. It's therefore up to the player how challenging they would like their lineups to become. Everybody wins.

You control the rabbit Looksley and progress along a world map, unlocking new areas with each puzzle. For example, until you find the words "open" and "sesame," you won't be able to move an obstructing boulder from the path. Just about everything is fairy tale-themed, though this never really defines the game. Sure, you climb a beanstalk and find Cinderella's carriage, but it never feels like a living fairy tale. Fine by us, it's still plenty of fun.

The presentation is absolutely charming. Beautiful pastel-coloured cutouts decorate the Looskley world and catchy ditties score the merriment. It's a real treat to spend time in this immersive universe. Just watching those little paper people glide around their little worlds is enough to create an irresistibly appealing experience.

On the world map, Looksley unlocks a second area and continues from a kingdom to a set of beach-themed stages. It's hard not to imagine this world opening onto another, and another, and so on. But it's somewhat of a short game at only thirteen stages. It's challenging and amusing enough to keep you occupied for a good amount of time (as long as you don't use too many tips), but once all of the puzzles have been completed there's no real incentive to return. Why find the same stuff all over again? Once you've done everything, Looksley unlocks a mini-game in which little animals run across the screen and asks you to click the correct ones, which feels like an afterthought addition. Another limitation is the singular save slot; starting a new game will erase another's progress, a potentially severe downside.

Conclusion

Under the right light, Looksley's is a beautiful, inventive and fun game that will keep you occupied for a good long while and charmed the whole time. It's a shame, though, that such a potentially wonderful experience is marred so badly by an oft haywire camera and a lack of replay value once each stage is complete. If developer Good-Feel Co. were to create a full retail version, complete with updated and improved camera settings (come on, adjustable contrast detection!), we would be all for it. Such a game, if done correctly, could end up being one of the system's best.

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User Comments (26)

Sean_Aaron

#2

Sean_Aaron said:

Yep, the only reason I haven't played more of it is that I tend to play more in low-light conditions which make it too frustrating to bother. Some means of manually tweaking the contrast would have been ideal.

Nice review, I have to agree it's nice to watch things happen, so I guess that could be a reason to fire it up again?

Crunc

#4

Crunc said:

This jibes with my experiences with Sony's Eye Toy on the PS2. I never once was able to get to work even remotely well, which makes you wonder why they even bothered with this concept here. I have my doubts that a contrast control or anything would have made any difference whatsoever.

Sneaker13

#6

Sneaker13 said:

Such a shame, for me, this was a reason I would buy a DSi. Hopefully a full retail version will come out with better camera settings because the preview looked awesome.

EdEN

#7

EdEN said:

So basically if you're white, play with a black t-shirt, againts a red background and with two light-bulbs, one to your left and one to your right, the game is worth the 500 points?

rosebud

#8

rosebud said:

@EdEN: Absolutely. My living room is set up almost exactly that way, except with white walls. I have very light (i.e. pale) skin and have had no problems.

LordJumpMad

#9

LordJumpMad said:

I have an Tan dark skin, so it going to be hard to play this Game.

just like The Warioware one.

I got to Stop going to the Beach so much

47drift

#10

47drift said:

I'm Filipino and rather dark. All the walls in my house are white. This is probably going to be an issue. : (

Zach

#12

Zach said:

@EdEN, @JumpMad and @47drift - I don't know if that's necessary true. Dark skin against light walls ought to work as well as light skin against dark walls, not to mention the effect of lighting. It's kind of unpredictable because of this confluence of factors, but the most inconvenient thing isn't the game being unplayable, it's searching for a place in which it works and being forced to stay there to play it.

hulklol123456789

#13

hulklol123456789 said:

No the camera its not soo crap, good light and contrast its a really great game, for me, A must buy if your tryign a new experience

jdarrell

#14

jdarrell said:

I used irken004's suggestion of adjusting screen brightness and that seemed to help for me. Since my room is bright, used the second lowest brightness such that the background is barely picked up when the camera is moved around.

rosebud

#15

rosebud said:

I agree, jdarrell. I think a dimmer screen helps with the camera issues. I use two as well.

Sean_Aaron

#16

Sean_Aaron said:

I don't think skin tone matters (this is Nintendo, not HP we're talking about!). I don't get a lot of sun and I've played it wearing white shirts without a problem, so it seems to be able to do fine there, it's the lighting that seems a problem. I've not tried reducing the screen brightness though, it's possible in lower light the screen ends up being bright enough to confuse the camera, so I might give that a shot too.

47drift

#17

47drift said:

So I ended up buying it. It's alright, but my complaints aren't actually about the camera at all. That aspect seems to work fine for me. The issues for me all revolve around the fact that it feels more like a tech demo than a finished game. It's got super nice music and pretty graphics, but it just feels like something that should be 200 points instead of 500. Heh... I dunno. Just my opinion.

jenisnape

#18

jenisnape said:

I agree. Having to find a spot where the camera will work is a huge pain. But, once you do it's a really fun game and great to show to friends. Hope they fix the camera problem and make a full retail version.

Jampony

#19

Jampony said:

I'll be buying this based on their ambition alone. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to get head tracking to work with the camera/processing quality of the DSi in the first place. I guess I'll just have to spotlight my face with a lamp!

Altkey

#21

Altkey said:

I got this game yesterday also, and I absolutely LOVE IT! I hope they do more games like this.

HolyMackerel

#22

HolyMackerel said:

The camera worked mostly fine for me. I play in indirect sunlight, or in the evening I have an overhead light on. My only complaint is that the game is too short! :) I enjoyed searching for all of the letters and objects. It's a very creative game and the technology is marvelous.

Apart from that, yeah it is a bit too much of a tech demo than a game. Maybe they'll have DSi retail releases using technology like this for something better though.

Jampony

#24

Jampony said:

It's pretty innovative overall, but the camera's limitations are apparent from the get go. And I gave my mum a go at this game and she found it a bit difficult! I mean, one of the first things you have to find (Cinderella's carriage,) is quite tricky to line-up!

triforceofcourage

#25

triforceofcourage said:

there sould be a remake of this game for 3DS (it would work much better with motion controls) the only flaw in this game was the controls and they flunked majorly. i bought it before reading any reviews (oops). you need a backround to play in that is completely different from your skin color or else it doesnt work. :(
i can only play it upside down on my bed.
but i would love to see it on 3DS

still a cool buy just to see how it works though.
great concept there NEED to be more games like this

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