Wii

North America

Gravitronix

by Lukasz Balicki - October 24, 2009, 6:04 pm PDT
Total comments: 20

3.5

This is one game that you might not want to gravitate towards.

Gravitronix is the first game from the independent developer Medaverse Studios. It is a multiplayer-focused title eminiscent of air hockey and Crossfire, and while it's an interesting concept, it unfortunately has many fundamental flaws.

Players control a device displaying a picture of their character, which can either capture or deflect a moving object inside a circular field. Depending on your settings, players defend either one quadrant of a circle or a semi-circle. Surrounding your area is a series of shields; once these shields are depleted, you will lose if an object goes outside the arena. To win the game you have to send an object past enemy defenses and then make an object exit the arena through their territory. Once all other opponents are eliminated, the player that is left wins the game.

One unique aspect about the game is its four different types of projectiles. Each projectile has different properties such as varying flight patterns, velocity, and explosive potential. For example, the spheres in the game fly straight and have a medium velocity and explosive potential, while cubes have a very slow velocity and an enormous explosive potential. Every projectile having different properties gives the game a somewhat interesting strategic element.

The controls are somewhat unique. To move your device you tilt the Wii Remote or Nunchuk either left or right while pointing it at the screen. The tilt controls on the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are responsive, and the device moves accordingly as you tilt; the farther away you tilt, the faster you move. Unfortunately, the movement speed feels a little sluggish no matter how much you tilt the controller.

There is a single-player mode, which acts similarly to a tutorial in some of the initial levels, turning into a campaign that has you trying to beat computer controlled-opponents that get progressively more difficult. After trying this mode once, you will never want to come back to it. It's simply dull.

The multiplayer mode is the main draw of the game if you have several friends to play with. Up to eight players can play this mode with a combination of Wii Remotes and Nunchuks. Up to two players can play co-operatively in a quadrant, and up to four players can play co-operatively in one semicircle. If you don't have enough players, you can assign computer-controlled players in their place.

A key flaw in the multiplayer mode is the default difficulty settings for computer-controlled opponents. By default these opponents are set on the easiest difficulty setting, making them a pushover and rendering any victory an unsatisfying one. You will also have a generally low amount of projectiles on the screen by default, which makes the game unexciting and at times extremely slow. Players will have to find the perfect balance to suit their needs on their own, as these pre-set options are far from satisfactory.

Another low point is the game's overall presentation. Gravitronix looks like a generic flash game that you could play on the Internet for free. If your Wii is set to widescreen, the game will force a 4:3 aspect ratio with big black borders on the sides; this is very disappointing. The audio in the game is equally unimpressive; the soundtrack is full of generic songs, and the voice acting is either downright terrible or unintentionally funny.

Ultimately, it's hard to recommend Gravitronix due to these flaws. This is a shame, because there is actually a decent game underneath it all. While the gameplay itself is somewhat interesting, the implementation is a mess and far from impressive. If you are looking for a multiplayer-focused title on WiiWare, there are numerous superior games available.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
3 2 5 4 3 3.5
Graphics
3

Gravitronix looks similar to free flash games, and the utterly generic character design doesn't help. If you are running your Wii on the widescreen setting, the forced 4:3 is outdated and very disappointing.

Sound
2

There are a few songs that you can change in the middle of a game, which helps. However, the voice acting in this title is some of the worst I have ever heard in a video game.

Control
5

The tilt controls on both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are equally responsive and good overall, but the movement may be too sluggish for some.

Gameplay
4

The gameplay can be summed up as a weird combination of air hockey and the board game Crossfire. Once you get used to the mechanics and properly configure your settings, the game can be somewhat enjoyable if you can look past its many flaws.

Lastability
3

Once you play through the single-player mode, you will not want to go back to it. The replay value is totally dependent on the multiplayer mode, and whether or not you can find friends who are interested in playing it.

Final
3.5

Ultimately, Gravitronix is what could have been a decent multiplayer game that is hampered by severe polish issues and poor implementation.

Summary

Pros
  • Decent multiplayer game
  • You can turn off the voiceovers
Cons
  • Abysmal voiceovers
  • Default option settings are terrible
  • Forced 4:3 aspect ratio when using widescreen
  • Poor single-player mode and tutorial
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

D_AverageOctober 25, 2009

bummer

N-WorldOctober 25, 2009

I think this was one of the first WiiWare games announced and I was hoping it would live up to its promise.  Oh well.

StratosOctober 25, 2009

Ouch. And it had such potential.

Quote from: N-World

I think this was one of the first WiiWare games announced and I was hoping it would live up to its promise.  Oh well.

I feel especially bad because it is a small start-up dev studio and they seemed to be working on this game for quite a while.

I wonder if they were kinda forced to release it early because of financial reasons and had initially intended to make it more polished.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusOctober 25, 2009

Yeah, the game could of been enjoyable if some of the fundamental flaws didn't exist. I also didn't really like how you had to find out what is the proper balance for an enjoyable game since it leaves a lot of guesswork and tweaking rather than being fun out of the box.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterOctober 25, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Ouch. And it had such potential.

Quote from: N-World

I think this was one of the first WiiWare games announced and I was hoping it would live up to its promise.  Oh well.

I feel especially bad because it is a small start-up dev studio and they seemed to be working on this game for quite a while.

I wonder if they were kinda forced to release it early because of financial reasons and had initially intended to make it more polished.

According to the interviews they gave, when the game was announced the Wii has having a lot of issues with storage, something that got worse as WiiWare games were a reality. They didn't want a game that was so big that it would force players to "clean the fridge". So, they toned it down to the bare essentials while making sure the game played well. But with the storage solution now a reality they have no reason to limit themselves.

The other thing is that the game was heavily tested before it was shipped, and according to them the play testers seemed to have no issue with the gameplay and the controls.

This Nintendo Life interview sheds a bit more light on how development was like:
http://wiiware.nintendolife.com/news/2009/10/interviews_gravitronix_medaverse_studios

The other odd thing about this game is that its been getting reviews that are the polar opposites of each other. They either LOVE the game or completely hate it.

For example, Gamers Daily News gave it an 8 out of 10:
http://www.gamersdailynews.com/article-2114-Gravitronix-Review-WiiWare.html

And Hardcore Gamer Magazine gave it a 3.5 out of 5, agreeing that the single player is weak, but multiplayer has value:
http://www.hardcoregamer.com/index.php?option=com_magazine&id_rubrique=1&type=article&id_article=404

Finally, Twin Galaxies gave it their highest regard, concluding that "You don't need a million dollar budget to make a great game":
http://www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx?c=25&id=1874

They all seem to agree that single player is bad and that the game could have looked better. But everything from the controls to the actual gameplay seem to have been getting different opinions.

With so many complaints about the controls, I wonder why alternative control options or even full control customization wasn't included. Too difficult to test? Implementing a joystick option seems like it would be much easier than trying to tune tilt controls.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusOctober 27, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

With so many complaints about the controls, I wonder why alternative control options or even full control customization wasn't included. Too difficult to test? Implementing a joystick option seems like it would be much easier than trying to tune tilt controls.

It's not that the tilt controls are bad since they are responsive, it's just the movement in the game feels sluggish even if you tilt the Wii Remote or Nunchuk far. A game like Bit.Trip Beat handled the tiling to character movement ratio flawlessly but in Gravitronix it just feels sluggish.

Smash_BrotherOctober 28, 2009

I have the game and I'm pretty sure I know why it was done like that...

In Bit.Trip, you're not playing against anyone so you're free to move as fast as you want, but in Gravitronix, the goal is to force an enemy to lunge to one end of their territory, then attack the other end. If players could move as fast as they could twist, the element of strategy would be gone and it would take two skilled players a ridiculously long time to kill each other.

Also, with your speed being limited, it encourages you to stop incoming projectiles by firing other projectiles at them (which is also a fantastic way to disarm explosive projectiles before they come in range of your shields).

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusNovember 10, 2009

Looks like another review for this game cropped up and it got a 3.0

JLowtherJesse Lowther, Guest ContributorNovember 10, 2009

Quote from: Flames_of_chaos

Looks like another review for this game cropped up and it got a 3.0

It's had worse scores than that and it's had way better.

Safe to say, we've learned very, VERY little from the critical feedback we've had from Grav, since everything one critic has hated has been liked by another critic and vice versa.

They all generally agree the graphics aren't the best (though some don't even mention having a problem with them and instead go after something like sound effects), but that's nothing we didn't already know.

JLowtherJesse Lowther, Guest ContributorNovember 11, 2009

The other thing which I find disappointing about reviews is that there are ZERO details along with them.

You have no idea how much I'd love a "I sat down to play Gravitronix alone/with X other people. The other people had trouble with ______, and said ________."

That would've been invaluable information as to how the learning process went for them and how we can make it better for people next game. It also would've given us better insight as to what circumstances the game performs best in and which it doesn't.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterNovember 11, 2009

Quote from: JLowther

The other thing which I find disappointing about reviews is that there are ZERO details along with them.

You have no idea how much I'd love a "I sat down to play Gravitronix alone/with X other people. The other people had trouble with ______, and said ________."

That would've been invaluable information as to how the learning process went for them and how we can make it better for people next game. It also would've given us better insight as to what circumstances the game performs best in and which it doesn't.

Here's the thing: When people read a review they want to learn if the game is good or not, so reviewers focus on the critical aspect. If they start to talk about how the game would have been better it dives into speculation, which is irrelevant to the article. It's up to the developer to figure out how to solve these issues.

If you want to get more insight I guess you can try contacting the reviewer and ask about their experience, but reviews would be the LAST place to look for gameplay insight.

Not saying that reviews don't help. They do. It's just that its very rare for a reviewer to talk about how the game could have been better and discuss how his or her experience was like.

JLowtherJesse Lowther, Guest ContributorNovember 11, 2009

The problem, as I see it, is that reviews are just opinions with a number tied to them. In the end, most people just skip to the number and don't even read the review.

But the real problem is that reviews lack context. Who is this person writing the review? How did they perform the review? Do I share similar interests with them?

Even before Gravitronix was out for review, I was finding reviews in general thoroughly unhelpful because I had no basis determining whether the reviewer and I had similar tastes or not.

Anyone here use Netflix? When first creating a Netflix account, they give you a list of 50-100 movies and have you rate all of them from 1-5 stars. Then, using those statistics, it recommends movies that you'll probably like.

Some review site should do this with games: give each user a list of 50 games that most people will have played and ask them to rate them from 1-5 stars. Then do the same with the reviewers so someone with an account on the site would be able to see just how much their tastes in gaming line up with that of the reviewer.

It wouldn't be a perfect system, but it would at least have something to help players determine whether or not they have similar tastes.

StratosNovember 11, 2009

I recall Nintendo Power back in the day having profiles for their reviewers that showed what their favorite types of games were. Then you knew where that reviewer was coming from.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterNovember 11, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

I recall Nintendo Power back in the day having profiles for their reviewers that showed what their favorite types of games were. Then you knew where that reviewer was coming from.

I remember EGM got a lot of flack because they kept assigning games to reviewers that didn't care for them, and usually started with something like "I was never a fan of X franchise/genre...". It made the review a tad unfair because the reviewer was set on flaming the game because of a personal preference.

But we are getting a tad off topic here...

Quote from: Stratos

I recall Nintendo Power back in the day having profiles for their reviewers that showed what their favorite types of games were. Then you knew where that reviewer was coming from.

I guess that's what the staff pages here are supposed to do, but they're not used much or even updated. I'm pretty sure we've got plans for making them more accessible in the future.

JLowtherJesse Lowther, Guest ContributorNovember 11, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

I recall Nintendo Power back in the day having profiles for their reviewers that showed what their favorite types of games were. Then you knew where that reviewer was coming from.

Would that really be enough, though? I mean, if a reviewer and I both like SSB and Ocarina of Time, it says very little about how much we'd both like, say, Fire Emblem.

Using the Netflix-like idea, you could have a number score that literally represents how much you and the reviewer see eye to eye. I'd go to that site for my reviews for that feature alone, no more of the "Three reviewers liked it and three reviewers hated it. Who do I believe?" nonsense.

You could take it a step further and show the user a graph of their preferences, depending upon how well they rate certain genres.

Somebody is listening to you, Jesse.

http://www.crispygamer.com/columns/2009-11-10/press-pass-building-a-better-aggregator.aspx

JLowtherJesse Lowther, Guest ContributorNovember 11, 2009

Well, damn. I knew I should've gone right to the patent office...

Though, this is a 3rd party attempt to classify critics. There's still no site I've seen that does it on their own.

We are investigating this for a future iteration of NWR.  Our reviewers have grappled with the issue of  review context.

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Gravitronix Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Medaverse Studios
Players1 - 8

Worldwide Releases

na: Gravitronix
Release Oct 12, 2009
PublisherMedaverse Studios
RatingEveryone

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