View Full Version : SA revews "Little Fish, Big Pond"

Shining Aquas
01-06-2009, 06:59 PM
This is a nice surprise, here I've been given something a little different today. "Little Fish, Big Pond" is the first Survival challenge I'm reviewing for this site (MGS Pack doesn't count, even though that has probably the greatest SC ever made on this game) so I'm hoping that it encompasses all that one would expect from a standard survival level.

Also, to make sure it receives the proper exposure, I tried it and then had 2 other people who aren't as big of ******** as me try it. The result? A large resounding "Uggh".

LFBP is a level where you as a sack person are dared by a fish to try and survive in the ocean where all the big fish live. The process by which is apparently getting shoved into a chamber and transformed into a fish, with an ocean backdrop. Specifically (and I'm sure everyone already understands how this works) the sack person is behind the backdrop with a jet pack and the fish on the outside is programmed to follow the sack person wherever he/she goes. The idea's been done before, but the fact that it isn't frequently employed still makes it fairly adventurous. So, after being transmogrified into a fish, you must swim through the ocean avoiding the masses that lie before you, which are mostly made up of 1 diver, a few jellyfish, 4 fish hooks, a black gas trap (for some reason), 2 annoying crabs, and an angler fish stuck in the depths. Needless to say, there's certainly a good chunk of things to be wary of, so the process of playing this level is as follows:

1)Take your controller
2)Turn it on
3)Stick it in-between your knees
4)Walk 20 feet while doing a handstand and barking like a dog

Congratulations, you just died. "Well Shining Aquas, that doesn't sound like very good advice." To respond to that, I can only say that I would probably feel a bit more inclined to give out advice if this level was actually designed to be played by people.

What does that mean exactly? Well it means a few things really. For one, it means that the level isn't exactly what I would consider an actual survivor challenge since most everything is more easily dodged than someone attempting to throw bowling balls at you; for two, the level ends fairly quickly and again defeats the purpose of this being a survivor challenge, which by definition either lasts a long time or doesn't end at all like every survivor challenge made by the Media Molecule team, plus once you get to the end you are glorified with a giant "THE END" sign and are then forced to kill yourself to finish the bloody level; for three, the controls while designed to be left in an open room with no obstacles still manages to find itself stuck in the closet with no way out, making the whole experience not too much harder but a lot more annoying.

And it's that third one that makes the whole level feel incredibly bad in comparison to what it should be. The whole control aspect should be totally open and free, but instead we are stuck with something that feels overly clunky, like trying to run a marathon with shoes shaped like bricks. All I'm advising here is to make something a bit more rounded and fluid, something that works a bit more sensitively and allows for greater freedom of movement. Honestly little changes like that could make this level muuuuuch better.

In my opinion, there are 3 main aspects that most Survivor Challenges should be moving towards: Objective, Length, and Curve. By objective I'm referring to the level actually feeling like it has a goal to be reached or a mission that you should strive to achieve, and to this regard actually feels like the player is participating for good cause. Length isn't hard to explain, all survivor challenges should either be incredibly long or never-ending and any survivor challenge that is too short immediately deviates away from actual "survival" and falls more along the lines of simple completion. Curve is the tough one, and this means taking the simple challenge and having it get progressively difficult at a nearly constant rate without having too many random spikes of easier and harder.

So while this level does definitely have a fairly steady curve (maybe a little too jumpy to be great, but still good), it completely abandons any sense of length and objective. Okay, maybe that's being a bit harsh, the objective is to "live in the ocean", but that kind of objective feels a tad bland and doesn't feel very rewarding to the player. Maybe if there was an ulterior goal or a motive for surviving in the ocean, the player might feel more engaged in the level and will have more fun with it.

Overall the level comes down to one good point and a number of bad points.
Good: Design and charm is definitely well done
Bad: Clunky, easy, not very rewarding, and doesn't "feel" like a survivor level.
Okay: Idea is certainly workable, but somewhat flawed as well. Music selection was okay, but somehow felt like it could be better.

Final Score:
5.0 / 10
Work a bit more on the control aspect of the level, and expand it a bit more. Could be a very fun level, but needs a bit of work to get there.

On a side note, I'm in the mood for a tuna sandwich now.