November 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

On Tuesday Dare ProtoPlay came to Homer Square in London. In it were seventeen games made by upcoming artists and developers, with three winners of the Dare to be Digital competition nominated for a Bafta. One of the games nominated was Boro-Toro, a 2D platformer developed by DarkMatter Designs, which a certain someone found he couldn’t put down.

Boro-Toro is a unique puzzle platformer controlled using the wiimote and nunchuk in which you, rice man, need to navigate levels, to collect buttons and reach the exit. The hook with Boro-Toro is its physics based puzzle system, whereby you use the wiimote to pick up objects in the environment in order to create bridges, or rotate mazes. Although the wiimote recognition on screen could be a little sketchy at times, overall this control mechanic was very intuitive, and was a very good example of just what can be accomplised with the Wii’s controls. Although the nunchuk and wiimote control different parts of the game, the use of both are necessary to succeed.

You’d be forgiven at first glance for seeing a similarity between Boro-Toro and Little Big Planet, but rest assured this is purely superficial. Both games have a very colourful art style , as well as unavoidably cute protagonists, but we were assured by Graham Ranson – one of the game’s developers – that Boro-Toro’s art style is due to the competition’s limited time frame and ia such it was beneficial for designer Adam Westwood to give the game a simpler aesthetic. At any rate Boro-Toro is the best use of the Wii’s controller I’ve ever seen, and it would be a huge shame if it didn’t make it onto the Wii’s virtual console.

Another game at the event worthy of mention was Planet Panic! an arcade multiplayer game where up to four players fly around a planet, trying to blow the hell out of each other. Interestingly the ship’s missiles are affected by the planet’s gravity, making for some awe inspiring shots which at first seem to miss their target, only to orbit the planet and score a hit on the second pass.

Although many of the games on display lacks both technical finesse – framerates on some games refused to step above ten – and gameplay innovation there was enough there to make me excited to see what these developers of the future could achieve with a big enough budget. Hopefully some of these games will see small releases on virtual stores, but until then all eyes are on the Baftas in March to (hopefully) see Boro-Toro emerge victorious.


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