It's a tale as old as time itself. Boy meets girl, boy tries to woo girl, and boy ties a string around the moon and collects animals for girl.
Wait, boy does what?
Such a premise has, I feel secure in saying, never been used in videogame history. I'll certainly take it over another Zombie variant, or yet more Space Marines fighting in a grim dark future. And, whilst it may lead to the game being dismissed by many purely because of the ambiguity of the title, it is those same people who will be missing out should they choose to ignore what is actually one of the formats most endearing, yet subtly hardcore, titles to date.
After all, the name makes it sound like a dating simulator, or possibly an RPG of some kind. And a quick look at the screenshots will have all but the psychic convinced that this is a game aimed squarely at 10-year-old girls. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Boy Loves Girl hides much within its sweet exterior. What looks like a Hello Kitty doll actually contains the soul of a tiger.
Gameplay consists of Boy walking from left to right, dragging the moon behind him like a kite. Swipes up and down the screen alter the height of the moon. Think of it as a side-scrolling avoid-em-up. Obstacles come in the shape of clouds of various types. For example, rain will cause you to lose the moon, and therefore the level. Thankfully, a tap on the raincloud will call a temporary cease to the precipitation, allowing the moon to pass underneath unharmed. Repeated taps on thunderclouds cause them to explode, whereas a rocket cloud will charge left at full speed once you tap on that one.
Why tap at all? Well, because of the clever little bonus mechanic that is tucked inside the levels. Merely going all the way to the end is enough to complete a level, but each one of the many levels also has three bonus conditions attached. Completing each of these earns a star rating, and turns what could be a dull little affair into something quite compelling. Sure, as each run through a level features random cloud placement, there will be times when an objective is frustratingly difficult, but this just ups the fun anyway. Being close and failing leads to addiction far more than not having a chance does. Grubby Hands know this, and have produced a game that the obsessive-compulsives can really sink their teeth into. Not to mention the huge list of in-game medals, which is enough to excite some, and terrify others.
What Boy Loves Girl brings to the table is a level of polish and playability that one would expect from a studio consisting of multiple employees. That it is a one-man-band doing it makes it all the more impressive. This is a game that will make you smile as well as make you inhale sharply. At its best, it will captivate you. But even at its worst, you will struggle to dislike it. If the looks don't charm you, and the sounds don't soothe you, the feeling of victory when you nail one of the tougher objectives certainly will definitely entice you into "Just one more go!"
With such old-school sensibilities grafted onto such contemporary presentation, Boy Loves Girl can bring entertainment to both young and old, offering equal amounts of cheer and challenge. You will have to go far to find a game as pleasing, but why bother when this one is available?
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 7
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