Got a bunch of plastic guitars laying around your game room? Downloadable platformer Fret Nice uses your strums and Star Power in a way that you've never seen before. But despite the funky control scheme, Fret Nice doesn't stray too far from side-scrolling conventions.
- Unique control method
- Great geek-rock soundtrack
- Vibrant, stylish graphics
- Better without the guitar controls
- A pretty simple platformer at its core
- Replaying levels gets old
Got a bunch of plastic guitars laying around your game room? Downloadable platformer Fret Nice uses your strums and Star Power in a way that you’ve never seen before. But despite the funky control scheme, Fret Nice doesn’t stray too far from side-scrolling conventions.
Moved By Music
Thanks to games like Braid, Castle Crashers, A Boy And His Blob and many more, it’s clear that the side-scrolling 2D is experiencing something of a renaissance. Each of these games tries to do its own unique thing while staying true to the core of old-school gaming. Now, you can add the new downloadable title Fret Nice to that list. Like all of the aforementioned games, Fret Nice is, at its core, a standard side-scrolling platforming game, with one interesting twist: You can play the game entirely with a Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar controller. The first and third fret keys move you left and right, while tilting the guitar neck up in the “Star Power/Overdrive” motion makes you jump. While you’re in the air, playing the guitar creates riffs that destroy your enemies. Each chord corresponds to a feature on the enemies’ faces and you have to match their features with your music to destroy them.
If it sounds weird, well, that’s because it is.
The Guitar isn’t a Hero
Perhaps because of its strangeness, Fret Nice is a hard game not to like. The music/facial feature matching gameplay sounds cumbersome, but actually works quite well in practice. As you’d expect from a game with music as a weapon, the soundtrack is great and features the kind of catchy original gaming tunes that are far too rare in the days of licensed beats. The cut-out visual style that’s reminiscent of Lucidity is stylish and cool.
Unfortunately, the guitar-controller gimmick at the heart of the game is the weakest thing about it. It works, but it’s also clunky and occasionally frustrating. Using the guitar tilt sensor to jump is a cumbersome control choice that doesn’t always respond as quickly as you’d like and other controls such as running or climbing just feel off. Fortunately, you can play Fret Nice with a standard controller. It feels much smoother with a traditional gamepad, but that also removes the most unique thing about the game, so you’re left with a passable but generally unremarkable platformer.
For Those About to Rock
As much as I liked Fret Nice’s visuals, music and boss fights, I wish that developer Pieces Interactive took more risks with the gameplay than just the control method. Fret Nice’s levels are very standard multi-path platforming affairs, and unlocking new stages via medal-earning gets old fast, as you’ll typically have to replay the same stage over and over just to get to the next one. The inclusion of co-op is a plus, as is the ability to customize your characters. But when all is said and done, Fret Nice’s gameplay just doesn’t rock as hard as it should. Pardon the pun, but it’s a nice little game. Too bad nice doesn’t go that far in the world of rock n’ roll.