NintendoFuse original review by Steve Cullum
Game – Chasing Aurora
Version – Wii U (eShop)
Obtained – Review copy from Broken Rules
What is this game? That was probably the most common phrase heard every time a new person walked into the room when seeing this 2D aerial action game with birds. As one of the early launch titles on the Wii U eShop, does it have enough to soar, or will it take a dive?
Story & Plot
While set in the Alps, Chasing Aurora does not have a story or plot, per say, so let me take this opportunity to explain a bit of what is going on when you initially boot up the game, which includes a unusually long load-time (something Broken Rules said to improve in a future update). You will be greeted with a menu, of course, with the ability to select Tournament, Challenge, Options, and Credits. While the options and credits probably make sense, the other two may not be so obvious, which is unfortunate. Essentially, Challenge is the single-player game, and Tournament is the local multiplayer mode.
The single-player Challenge mode is basically a race against time. You will choose one of five birds, each with a different color, style, and name. Next, you choose from one of 20 courses. In the beginning, though, you must unlock one after another, each with increasing difficulty.
In the multiplayer mode, there are three different types of games – Hide & Seek, Freeze Tag, and Chase. Tournaments involve a collection these games, which are pre-chosen for you. One might involve all Chase events, while another might be one of each. Some tournaments are only three games long, and others are five. In all, there are nine of these pre-selected tournaments, and one option for a random selection. It might have been nice to include an option to create your own tournament, though, based on what levels and stages you want to play.
Gameplay & Controls
One of the first questions one might ask is about the difference between the birds. The developers have answered that question, in fact, in MiiVerse. Their answer was that all birds control and act the same. It is merely a question of preference when choosing your bird.
How does one fly in this 2D world around the mountains, clouds, lightning storms, and wind? The single-player option utilizes the GamePad, while multiplayer allows for a number of controller options, and they are all quite simple. Basic direction is controlled with either the analog stick or control pad, depending on what controller you use. Another button allows your bird to flap its wings, another is used to dive, and another to drop an item. In a world where controls often get complicated, Chasing Aurora keeps it simple, and it works. The only thing is that you might want to opt to use an analog stick controller over the control pad, as it works better to move in all directions.
Single-player, as stated before, is a race against time. Each level has an obvious route laid out that you must follow. The goal is to not hit any obstacles, fly through each gate, and do it as fast as possible. Each gate you pass will add to your score multiplier, which also adds to your time. After you pass through 20 time-extension gates, you will receive a large time bonus, and a goal of passing through 20 more. The longer you last, the higher score you receive, and the higher number of stars you will get. Getting a three-star on any map is quite difficult, though, especially in the higher levels. There are only local high scores, for now, but Broken Rules has stated they are going to include online leaderboards in a future update, which should defintiely improve the replay nature of this mode.
Multiplayer is where this game really shines. In order to describe it best, here is a breakdown of each multiplayer game within the Tournament mode.
Hide & Seek: Whoever has the GamePad will be the hiding bird. All other players need to find the hider and steal the Aurora Gem from him. While the hiding bird can look at the GamePad screen, all others have their own section of the TV to watch.
Freeze Tag: The one with the GamePad will be the freezer, and all other birds will share the same TV screen view with the goal of running away and surviving for the duration of the clock. They may unfreeze their partners, but if they do, the freezer gets more opportunities to continue freezing, which can add to their point total. If you go off-screen, you will also freeze, so the goal is to stay close but not to get tagged.
Chase: This frantic mode allows for a free-for-all chase. Aurora’s Gem begins in the middle of all the birds. Whoever can get to it first will try to hold onto it and escape from the others, who are all trying to steal it for themselves. This mode also has you sharing the same screen, so you must stay close to the one with the gem, or you will lose a life. Lose three and you are gone. If you are the last one standing with the gem, you win.
During Tournaments, the GamePad will rotate around, allowing everyone to have a chance to be the “special” bird, which makes it nice and fair for everyone playing. In my opinion, the groups I played with had the most fun with Chase mode, as it was very chaotic. However, your group may have different tastes.
Graphics & Sound
Based around vectors and sprites, Chasing Aurora has a pretty look that seems to mirror a pop-up children’s book or origami. This makes for an original graphic style that has impressed almost everyone who played in my presence. Although, some levels are quite simple, others are quite elaborate with mountains stretching to the sky, lightning striking, and beautiful backgrounds of the Alps.
Sound effects are basic and nothing to praise by themselves, On the other hand, the musical soundtrack is all original, which changes for each level and mode. It is a combinations of strings, nature sounds, and percussion that sets a calm mood. In fact, it would be great if they offered the soundtrack as a standalone product. It is that good.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
While first-impressions were not always the greatest, once people got a chance to play the multiplayer modes, they almost always were hooked. Single-player could get old, but promised future updates should help the game to continually progress. If you are having a game-night soon, do yourself a favor and download Chasing Aurora.
For more information, head to http://www.chasing-aurora.com.