Two years into the Nintendo DS, one could easily see that the days of the Game Boy Advance were coming to close. As handheld gamers turned their attention to the more powerful and elegant Nintendo DS, some last-minute Game Boy Advance games were ignored, and in some cases, failed to even make it out of Japan. Take for instance Rhythm Tengoku, the last Nintendo-published game released on the platform. What many considered as one of the best games on the system was unfortunately made into a Japan-only game.
And then you have the games in the Bit Generations series. In total, there were seven games in the series: Boundish, Dialhex, Dotstream, Coloris, Orbital, Soundvoyager, and Digidrive. All of the games in the series, excluding Digidrive, were developed by skip Ltd. and released in Japan during 2006. Though there were rumours that the series would be brought to North America due to some of the games being ESRB rated, it never happened. Maybe the decline in popularity of the Game Boy Advance prompted Nintendo to yield their plans of localizing the series.
Two years later though, Nintendo of America has finally decided to bring the series stateside. The catch, however, is that the series won’t be released on the now dead Game Boy Advance or Nintendo DS, but rather on Nintendo’s own WiiWare service. Rather than direct ports of the games, Nintendo is remaking the games and launching a new series – Art Style. Featuring elegant design, polished graphics, and pick-up-and-play controls, the Art Style series seems to be a perfect-fit for WiiWare.
Remake of Orbital
The first game to be released state-side is Art Style: Orbient, a remake of Orbital. Though the game plays exactly like it did on the Game Boy Advance, the console version improves the visuals and audio to deliver a fresher experience. So if you’re expecting a rather retro-looking game, you won’t find it here.
Centre of Gravity
As previously mentioned, Orbient has easy pick-up-and-play controls. Oh, and when I say easy, I literally mean it. The bulk of the game uses only the A and B buttons on the Wii Remote. Yes, that means that only one control scheme is supported. When you look at the big picture though, it actually makes sense that the game should be played with two buttons. The physical location of the buttons suit the controls very well, and since no other buttons are used, your hand can be positioned so that your fingers are always on the buttons.
In Orbient, players control a planetoid travelling through a number of galaxies. To move through space, players use the powers of gravity by attracting and repelling it. The main goal of each level is to collide with spheres the same size as you to increase your size. Once you reach a certain size, you can attract smaller planets to yours and convert them into orbiting moons. After successfully reaching a certain size, you can attract the system’s sun and progress to the next level. Any moons left orbiting you will be turned into extra lives for future levels.
Orbient isn’t about engaging visuals or complicated controls, nor is it about complexity. What Orbient shines at is creating an experience that is fun to play as an escape from hardcore video games, yet at the same time engaging enough to play for hours on-end. The pick-up-and-play nature of the game may turn some people off, but once you get under the game’s skin, you can see that Orbient can be played for hours. Yeah, the lack of online and leaderboards hurts the game, but for 600 Wii Points (the equivalent to $6.00 US), what do you expect? Orbient is all about accessibility and bridging the gap between casual and hardcore gamers. If this is a sign for future Art Style games, we could have ourselves something big on the horizon.
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