It seems, in recent times, that the majority of intriguing and exciting new projects on the eShop platforms brings us to the Wii U, with the home console's power and development tool support attracting plenty of companies. The 3DS eShop does have excellent titles of its own, but the volume seems lower in terms of upcoming titles that we should anticipate. Thankfully we can expand that number by one, as Proun+ is shaping up rather nicely for the handheld.
Already available on smart devices, this is a high-tempo game that's a blend between racer and runner, but as you control a ball let's just call it a roller. While it's different in many respects, which we'll come to, it's perhaps best-related to SpeedX 3D on the 3DS eShop, though this is far from a simple variation upon that theme.
Right from the off the visuals and sound set a unique tone; there's upbeat, funky and jazzy music; upon jumping into a stage we're greeted by bright colours and a gaggle of shapes and structures. It's pitched as "A Journey Through Modern Art" with an aesthetic inspired by Mondriaan and Kandinsky — we'll take the developer's word on that, though it's a pleasant dose of originality and boisterous design.
You play as a ball / spherical object that races through these artistic settings on a fixed rail, with a host of objects zooming forth from the horizon. You dodge these hindrances by rotating around the rail, with 360 degrees available in most cases and occasional moment when movement is slightly more limited. Hitting an object beings about a dead stop, killing all momentum.
Momentum is key, here, as the longer you maintain a run the quicker you travel — the aim is generally to get to the stage where it's practically impossible to avoid collisions; extra strategy comes from minimising rotation and finding the most efficient route, as this can also enable higher speeds. Due to the intriguing shapes and designs there's an initial period of adjustment where progress is readily disrupted; once your eyes and mind adjust to the aesthetic — and you memorise courses — it becomes an increasingly satisfying dash.
Despite a simple core concept each mode features different events to show off the alternative possible approaches; a race requires a top 3 finish to earn between 1-3 stars, Endless levels require you to avoid obstacles for as long as possible, while points places coloured zones to hit in order to accumulate the highest score possible. It's a welcome change to tackle some scenarios that can be approached with a greater focus on accuracy and precision over out-and-out speed.
In terms of controls, we've generally preferred the physical inputs, using the Circle Pad for rotation. You can also set acceleration to be automatic or controlled with A — though some events make the decision for you — while X can be used for occasional boosts. It's a very simple setup, while motion controls provide an alternative: for our money it's far more challenging to tilt the 3DS with the required speed and precision, but it's there nevertheless.
What's immediately clear from our initial time with the game, meanwhile, is that it offers a fiendish challenge. We're yet to truly test whether it's a little too difficult or whether the balancing caters to sustained practice; what we can say it that so far we've simply had access to two of five modes — Relaxed and Fast. The names set the scene, and Sonic, Supersonic and Speed of Light remain locked. That could affect performance, too; we've been impressed with the smooth framerate so far — only seeing some minor slowdown in one stage — but it'll be a challenge for the hardware to sustain ever-greater speeds.
Early impressions also suggest that this provides one of the nicest examples of the system's stereoscopic 3D effect. The aforementioned framerate holds up well in 3D and it helps to provide a pleasing sense of depth that's genuinely useful when trying to avoid oncoming objects.
So far, then, Proun+ is a title that could be worth consideration for some quickfire entertainment on the 3DS. Engine Software is hopeful of a release on 26th December at present, though that's not confirmed as yet. Let us know whether this is on your radar, while below is a trailer for the iOS version.