It's like having an iOS game on your GamePad!
Soon Shine, from the developers of recent Wii U release Chubbins, is an interesting score attack game played entirely on the GamePad. You can turn your TV on, but your attention will be focused entirely downward, making the TV display mostly pointless. While the gameplay is unique and the aesthetics are nice, there’s not enough here to hold your attention for long.
The gameplay involves tapping multi-colored spirits that drift toward a central Aztec-looking sphere in an attempt to eat it. You can quickly swipe the sphere to change day to night and vice versa, and doing so causes some spirits to freeze in place while new spirits start their attack. In order to not be overwhelmed by spirits, you have to effectively utilize this swapping mechanic to chain combos and more. Additionally, tapping frozen spirits increases their size and speed when you unfreeze them, and the resulting big guy is worth far more than his normal-sized counterparts. Some spirits will not stop moving between the day and night, and must be dealt with quickly. Their presence occasionally breaks your combos, but they add a good sense of anxiety to the game that’s otherwise incredibly relaxing. There’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved in getting that high score, which is appreciated. At a certain point, however, the spirits will be coming quickly and furiously, and once the sphere’s energy is depleted, it’s game over.
The game offers three modes: Standard, Purist, and Timed. Standard Mode allows you to purchase and use items during gameplay. One item may refill the sphere’s energy while another will freeze all spirits for a set amount of time. These items are ultimately useful, helping you achieve higher scores. Purist is tougher, as you can’t rely on any items, but it’s also over quicker. I actually liked Timed the most—you have three minutes to get the highest score possible, giving it a clear goal. Using Tokens earned through gameplay, you can buy the in-game items in addition to new visually interesting backgrounds and pleasant musical tracks, though the latter pieces are quite expensive.
Soon Shine is a fun game, but it seems more appropriate on a mobile device, where you could play a few rounds while on the train or bus or on your lunch break. It lacks any real hooks—like long-term achievements or leaderboards—so the appeal is short-lived. Also, spinning the sphere is unusually finicky. I had far better luck spinning it by sliding the stylus right-to-left than left-to-right, and even then, it sometimes took a few tries! So while the game certainly performs as advertised, it’s not particularly ambitious.