Pros: Unique, easy to learn, neat graphical style, USB camera support
Cons: Gameplay too simplistic, only sixty "levels"
Nana On Sho, one of Sony's first
party studios, is known for making creative games. They made Parappa the
Rappa, Unjammer Lammy, and Vib Ribbon for the original Playstation. Vib
Ripple isn't as much a kin to the innovative music games that Nana On
Sho is used to making. Instead it's something totally new, starring the
familiar character Vibri from Vib Ribbon.
To give you a brief idea of
gameplay it is something of a cross between one of those photo hunt
games you'll find on Megatouch machines and a trampoline simulator. See, you play as Vibri who is set out
to find Peta Characters that are hidden within ordinary photos. Peta
Characters are these cute 2D sprites that are also real world objects.
Some of the Peta Characters include a monkey, a tree, an elephant and a
black cat. To find the characters Vibri has to bounce on the photo. Once
you start jumping you need to continue jumping in rhythm so you can
bounce higher and higher, similar to how you would jump on a trampoline.
As you jump higher, you'll fall harder on the picture and if there is a
Peta Character underneath you you'll free it. Once a Peta Character is
visible you need to jump and touch it a couple of times and then you
finally have collected it.
There are a certain amount of Peta Characters that Vibri needs to
collect to complete a level. The game gives you a little hint at the
bottom left of the screen. An approximate shape and color are shown as
clues. The color is one of the most important clues because Peta
Characters blend into the area where they match the same color as the
photo. For instance if you're trying to find a pink pig, the pig can
only be in a pink area of the photo. Another clue is that the controller
vibrates when you're near by a Peta Character. While you only need to
free three or four Peta Characters per level, this is the bare
minimum. In every level there are more hidden characters that you can
collect if you choose to. Collecting all of the extra characters in
every level is quite a challenge, since you can only spend three minutes
in each level. After the three minutes are up you have to restart
the level with all of the Peta Characters hidden in the same spot.
While the concept of Vib Ripple is certainly unique, it is really
simple to learn. Mastering the art of bouncing on the photo can be
learned in a matter of minutes. The game also has a fair learning curve,
which gives you really simple photos to start out with. Simple photos
have less colors or areas that obviously hide a Peta Character. If a
photo only has one little spot of blue and there is a blue Peta
character you know it's there. As you progress through levels eventually
you'll get images with a lot more action in them or even a person's
face. On top of that you'll have to face some enemies, that can force
Vibri to de-evolve if it touches them. Best of all is when you complete
a level you're not forced to ever play it again. Vib Ripple uses a level
select where you can play any level you've beaten and the current level
you're working on solving. If you beat the current level you'll unlock a
new level until sixty levels are completed. All of these features makes
Vib Ripple a game that is easy to pick up at anytime.
Sixty photos are pretty short for this game. If you take your time
with the game
you can complete the game in a few days. Fortunately, Sony made sure to
design the game with infinite replay value. Gamers can add in new
pictures from their digital cameras. If you plug your camera in the USB
port you can make all new levels that contain Peta Characters with your
photos. How cool is that? Vib Ripple even supports downloading photos
from your cell phone via use of the network card. Although, this is only
potential replay value. If you don't have a digital camera or a network
adapter there is a definite end to the game. Sony could have added in
some extra levels beyond sixty just using the game's internal hiding
Peta Characters mechanism.
Vib Ripple isn't going to win a technical merit award for graphics,
but not every thing should be measured in how many polygons a game
contains. Vib Ripple has it's own set of artistic style to it. Vibri has
the look of a neon pink bunny, that has a good glowing effect around it.
Another cool effect in the game is the "ripple" effect that you can see
when you jump on photos. The photo stretches to invert towards the point
you're jumping on. The Peta Characters have a paper cutout style to
them, reminiscent of Paper Mario. The only graphical qualm is the game
only supports 200x200 resolution for the photos. It would be much better
if the game could support double that resolution so the photos could be
Nana On Sho made sure not to neglect the game's audio even though it
isn't central to the gameplay. The in game sound track is cheery
synthesized music. The music tempo changes depending on Vibri's evolved
form. The higher Vibri is evolved the faster the tempo of the music is.
After completing a level Vibri plays a little song with his drums and
says the names of all of the Peta Characters you've caught. The song
that really strikes in my mind as some well done audio is the
introduction song to Vib Ripple. A synthesized voice of Vibri sings a
song behind a simple, but catchy tune.
Vib Ripple is a quirky game genre defying game that is surprisingly
easy to learn. The cute characters, the interesting graphical style and
simple gameplay come together in a solid package. One of the key
problems with the game is it relies on the player owning some digital
camera to make the most out of the game. Without a digital camera you'll
be missing out on jumping on your face, your room or any other crazy
picture you took to find Peta Characters. Most gamers will probably pass
Vib Ripple by, but we urge you to give this game a look and a chance.
It's genuinely charming and genuinely fun.
The gameplay can be learned without any Japanese knowledge. There
are also only a few menus that you need to navigate through, which means
this game is pretty import friendly.
While Parappa the Rappa eventually made it to US shores, Vib Ribbon
and Mojib Ribbon never did. Because of this it seems unlikely that Vib
Ripple will come over.
Even though this game doesn't have as much gameplay or as
much to "master" as other games out there Vib Ripple is something
uniquely charming and is something fun.