The Lovely Planet video game series from QuickTequila has a wonderful habit of reinventing itself with each new release. The case is no different with their latest, Super Lovely Planet. Instead of being a speedrunning, twitch or arcade shooter, the Lovely Planet world has morphed into a precision platformer. If you have played any of the previous titles the game will look very familiar to you. Keeping with the same simple, colorful, and childlike aesthetic that has been present in the previous installments. Aside from the genre change their is one significant difference. You play as a ball. A big yellow ball.
Super Lovely Planet keeps with the theme of the entries that preceded it in the sense that you will be challenged and your reflexes and timing will be put to the test. As I said before you encapsulate a yellow ball that traverses the environment by way of rolling and jumping. There are two variances of jumping, one being a small one and the other big, as well as an attack that is only used when you are close to enemies. With that the extent of your abilities and mechanics in game is kept to a minimum and with good reason. A robust skill set with constantly evolving mechanics would take away from what the game is an obviously what the developer had envisioned.
When first stepping into the world if you’re not familiar with the Lovely Planet titles can be quite deceiving. The environment and obstacles at hand appear to be quite open and simplistic and void of challenge. It’s not until you really dive into the gameplay and get a few levels under your belt that you realize the precision behind the simplicity. Like most platformers the goal is to make it to the end of the level while picking up collectables along the way, Super Lovely Planet is no different. There are only two collectable types, stars and hidden heart collectables. The stars are scattered throughout the levels in a generous fashion and are pertinent to your final score at the end of the level depending how many you collected. They also serve double duty as health pickups if you had previously taken damage. This is quite the throwback to platformers of yesteryear alongside the knockback your character takes when damaged is reminiscent of Castlevania. As I said before the level design presents as mildly simplistic but the obstacles gradually escalate in difficulty and variation. Forcing you to gain better control of your character and execute more precise and time based jumps as you try to avoid the enemies sprinkled throughout. Said enemies are so unassuming because of the art style that taking a leisurely approach to them was a mistake that I quickly had to rectify. The developers did a wonderful job with AI to force you to manage faster and erratic movements. Taking a direct line towards many baddies, especially ones that shoot projectiles would many times lead to death. Many times the AI learned my jump pattern as I approached and fired a well timed shot that would throw me off enough to land a second. At times this felt unfair, but in the end it forces your hand to change tactics and keep you on your toes. Which is more or less in the DNA of the Lovely Planet series. Repetition, and changing of tactics are what gets levels cleared. Leaving a sense of achievement when you land jumps or run levels perfectly. This brings forth competitiveness with yourself and with the game to always do better, which in turns provides great replayability. As one would guess this game can also welcome plenty aggravation while trying to complete the task at hand. But Quick Tequila did something interesting with the levels to stave off that boiling pot that is your patience. After a handful of levels there always seemed to be a level that provided very little in the way of a challenge. Basically just go through and collect the stars. These moments lend themselves to allow the player to catch a breath from the sometimes diabolical levels that are requiring 10 or more tries to clear. With all of these things I liked about the game the one thing mechanic wise I do wish was different was ball speed. Across the larger open areas the ball moves slow if you’re not constantly jumping. Not at all a deal breaker but wouldn’t have minded a faster pace or run function.
I believe this game is a fun and challenging title where mechanics and the fluff of power ups are stripped down to let the actual platforming shine. Platforming veterans and newcomers alike should find a lot to enjoy here. Wonderful level design and precise controls alongside a much welcomed nod to the platformers of my youth. Makes me wonder what the next iteration of the Lovely Planet series will be. Until then I highly recommend Super Lovely Planet.
RELEASE DATE: JULY 28, 2017
AVAILABLE ON: PC (STEAM)