IGN Review of Miss Spider's: Harvest Time Hop & Fly
It's quite a jump for a developer to go from one of the most intense, energetic, and explosive Nintendo DS games to one of the slowest and youngest-skewing Nintendo DS titles, but that's exactly what Shin'en did with Miss Spider: Harvest Time Hop and Fly for the dual screen portable. After the team's Nanostray, its next project is a serious trip backwards...not just in demographic, but also in creativity. The only reason you're probably reading this review is to find out if either A) it's a good game to buy the kid/grandkid/niece or nephew, or B) there's some sort of hidden gaming gem in this kids license. The answer is no on both counts.
This Nintendo DS game bases four mini-game challenges around the David Kirk-created Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends series of books, where each game gives one of Miss Spider's kids something to do. All Miss Spider's used for is a segue between levels to give the gamer the chance to select the next challenge in a maze-like overworld - the insect and arachnid children take centerstage.
In one challenge, players do simplistic platform hopping to get from one end of the level to the other, collecting fruit along the way. There's no losing here, and the only "penalty" for taking a hit from a hazard is a brief jolt and limited invincibility. The only challenge is in locating all of the fruit in a level, because some might be hidden somewhere off-screen. A second set of challenges is similar to a horizontal shooter
without the shooting. Again, players guide their dragonfly through hazards collecting fruits for score and nectar for health. Unlike the previous level, there is "death" here - take one too many hits, or forget to scoop up nectar, and the level restarts. In a third set of challenges, players move down to the touch screen to, once again, collect fruit - this time by circling them with the stylus. Tapping on falling leaves and briar patches will remove them from play and allow the characters to move through the level unscathed. And finally, the fourth set of games puts the DS system's microphone to use - blowing on the system will keep the falling bug airborne long enough to
yep, you guessed it, collect fruit scattered along the path in his freefall.
Even with four distinctly different styles of levels to play through, the game feels enormously repetitive because, on top of the lack of creativity, you're doing exactly the same thing
regardless of the layout. Worse is the fact that the game's reward system is based around playing through the game twice - the gamer first has to play through the "adventure" mode to unlock the levels in "bug-a-bonus," which will award unlockable artwork if enough levels are completed. The younger crowd may be more accepting to the lack of variety between the levels, but it's a bit insulting to the person who plunked down full-price for the game for a bland series of non-challenging, not very creative "games" that take a little more than an hour to complete 100 percent.
At the very least, Shin'en's attention to the technical side of the system is apparent, as the game pushes a really nice, detailed 3D engine that flows smoothly in each of the challenges. There's also a mellow soundtrack to keep with the game's casual pace - fun, just not very memorable tunes.
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