Posted by Henry Stockdale
This tractor's a little bit rusty
Nordcurrent don't have a great record when it comes to WiiWare, having brought us the some stinkers such as Robin Hood: The Return Of Richard and 5 Arcade Gems. Now we have Urbanix, where you play as a tractor who is simply trying to build a town on an empty field, while cloning the gameplay of arcade classic Qix. However, while it's a marked improvement over previous games, it's still a bit lacking.
Urbanix only features one main mode in the game. Your aim is simply to claim as much land as possible within the level by carving out sections of the stage for your buildings by jutting out from the edge and landing at another edge point without getting bopped by roaming enemies. The larger the section you create, the more points you earn, and stages end when you fill a points gauge within the time limit. It can also be played in a 2 player co-operative mode, which simply involves two of you working together to get the stage completed, but sadly not in any competitive form.
The game features over 150 levels across 3 different terrains: Earth, North Pole and Moon. Earth is the only one available from the get-go, with the others unlocking as you play. These other two feature slightly different gameplay, in that you have to go over the land on the North Pole terrain twice, and the moon terrain three times. While this at least adds some variety to the game, the repetition feels more annoying than interesting.
However, it's not as simple as that as these levels contain enemies looking to put a stop to your construction efforts. There are 3 main types of enemies you'll encounter in the game: landrunners, which are your basic enemies and simply run from one side to another; helisharks, which actively run after you, requiring you to shake the Wii Remote to get free if they catch you; and housecrashers, who destroy the buildings you've created.
Your biggest threats are generally the landrunners, as you will lose a life when they run into your construction line, creating an element of risk when attempting to create bigger areas. If the enemy is inside your area when you hit the road on the side of your map, then nothing gets created on that side. You also get a wide range of power-ups, such as a speed boost, a shield, extra lives and slowed time, which compliment the gameplay well.
However, there is a game-freezing glitch that sometimes occurs when an enemy runs into you while picking up a power-up, but fortunately this is a rare occurrence. Outside this glitch, though, it's generally quite a fun game and any fans of Qix should enjoy what's on offer here to some extent. The problem is that, while nothing is particularly poor about the game, it begins to feel a bit stale after a while despite the alternate terrains available.
On the technical side of things, the game utilizes a graphical style that is aimed at children, such as the use of anthropomorphic tractors and bright colours, but the 3D models can be a bit ugly at times.
Overall, while it's a bit stale at times and not particularly original, it can still be a fun experience. It doesn't particularly excel at anything but nothing is really done poorly either, and at 500 points for 150 different levels, any fans of Qix-like games could do well to take the plunge.