This decent platformer falls just a little short of greatness.
In most scenarios, games that are released to coincide with the release of a motion picture often end up less than spectacular, and for good reason, too. In order to capitalize on the movie, most games are often rushed in order to send them out of the gate so that they’ll release around the same time as the film. While it’s quite apparent that this was also the case with Shorts, based off of the film sharing the same name, it isn’t quite as bad as many might have expected.
Shorts is set in the suburb of Black Falls, where all the houses are identical and everyone works for the same company, Black Box Unlimited Worldwide Industries Incorporated. The company produces an item called Mr. Black’s Black Box which is said to be the “ultimate communication and do-it-all gadget.”
Toe Thompson, our lonely protagonist of Shorts, is not one bit pleased with this magical box, seeing as it is keeping his parents unemployed. One day though, his luck begins to change, as an elusive, rainbow-shaped rock falls from the sky and grants him wishes whenever he holds it. Before long, his wishes start to backfire and create a swarm of monsters that invade the town. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the adults create even more havoc when they gain possession of the stone. In order to save the town from destruction, it’s up to a group of kids to defeat the enemies.
Shorts plays like a typical platformer in which the main goal of each level is to make it to the end while avoiding enemies and other obstacles. Each stage offers some fairly basic puzzle-solving that certainly adds bit of challenge to the game, it is nowhere near difficult. In fact, it is rather short and can easily be completed within a couple of hours.
While the puzzles are certainly a welcome addition to the game, it would’ve been nice to see a bit of creativity thrown into the mix. For starters, you'll probably find yourself stepping on switches to raise up previously lowered gates and grabbing keys to open unlocked doors. As one might expect, this becomes quite stale after awhile and significantly takes away from the fun factor.
Scattered throughout each level are floating orbs that give each playable child a power boost once 100 of them are in your possession. This power-up is temporary, so once it is gone, you’ll have to start saving again in order to reactivate the child’s ability.
Shorts is primarily played using the D-pad and buttons, but occasionally the opportunity springs up to use the touch screen. At specific points in the game, players can create their own platforms with the stylus or block rampaging enemies by using the line as a shield. It’s certainly a neat little feature, but it has been done better elsewhere, such as in Kirby Canvas Curse.
From a visual and audio perspective, Shorts does little to impress. Besides some notable problems with the frame rate and enemy size, the backgrounds are also on the ugly side. The audio also suffers from repetitive sound effects and a lack of variety among the background music. All in all, very disappointing.
Shorts is by no means a bad game, but it suffers from some common technical problems that easily drag the game down. Besides the repetitiveness and frame rate, the game is also on the short side, and seeing as there is little reason to revisit the game after finishing it, you’ll unlikely want to replay it. Then again, the game is bargain priced, so if you have a bit of money that is waiting to be spent, or you are in dire need for a platformer, Shorts may be satisfy your appetite.