Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review- Soon Shine (Wii U eShop)

Soon Shine is an interesting game. Somehow it manages to successfully straddle the precipice between casually easy and insanely difficult. I picture the mad geniuses at Dahku Creations laughing incessantly as they finalize the code on their creations; knowing full well that they have just given the world another videogame iteration of the old Transformers theme song, "There's more than meets the eye."  Like their previous eShop offering, Chubbins, Soon Shine is very pretty. Pretty looking, pretty approachable, and pretty deep.

On August 6, 2014 Dahku Creations tweeted, "Note to reviewers and upcoming players: 
Soon Shine's eManual is a recommended read for jump-starting your game!"

I strongly second this suggestion. If you do not heed this advice you will probably be relegated to playing Soon Shine by what I have personally dubbed, "Casual rules." The player simply does nothing more than tap away at the screen, popping off the approaching multicolored spirits as fast as their fingers can fly. Only occasionally will the player be forced to change this strategy due to an incoming black or white spirit, which will force them to "swipe" instead of "tap." While playing the game thusly is feasible, it will only generate as much enjoyment as spinning in a circle and blasting away while playing Asteroids, remaining stagnant while mindlessly pressing the fire button in Tempest, or for you more modern gamers, using the same "money play" over and over again in Madden Football.

Image of video game Soon Shine. The Sun is in the middle of the screen, and colored spirits are flying toward it. In the background, gears can be seen.

While it is possible to learn the finer nuances of Soon Shine through experience, the aforementioned eManual does a great job explaining the heart of the game. Or what I call playing by, "For-real rules." The player builds combos by tapping like-shaded spirits consecutively, freezing the unlike spirits by swiping the screen, and racking up points like some sort of "Beautiful Mind" protege. When playing the game this way, a player quickly realizes that Soon Shine is a puzzle game. I feel compelled to point out that very few great puzzle games have ever been made....period. For every decent puzzle game, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of horrible ones. Soon Shine is certainly cool and unique but the fact that it is a great puzzle game makes it truly special.

Soon Shine is a WiiU game but in all reality it is a WiiU Gamepad game. All the action takes place on the Gamepad and since you are also tapping or swiping what you see on the Gamepad, your eyes are instinctively drawn to the small screen. At first I thought my TV screen served no purpose other than duplicate the function of the TV's that sat atop Dragon's Lair machines (they were there so people not playing the game could see the action). However, I decided to try playing Soon Shine by what I call, "Zen rules." I began to only look at the TV and trust my hand to hit the stylus in the right place on the Gamepad. When done right, this brought me to a new level of "oneness" with my WiiU. If that sounds gushy and esoteric... you just don't love videogames as much as I do.

Image of video game Soon Shine. The moon can be seen in the middle of the screen, and colored spirits are disappearing in flashes with 100 appearing in their stead. In the foreground, you can see green vines. In the background, you can see the clear night sky with stars.

I ponder the possibilities for "unwritten rules" when it comes to Soon Shine. Will there be players in the Miiverse boasting about getting through Timed Mode by only tapping green spirits? The largest combo, while remaining a sun? The possibilities are to numerous to list here. Suddenly, I think I hear the mad geniuses at Dahku Creations laughing again...

Go ahead. Drop 2 bucks in the eShop and give Soon Shine a try. Any gamer won't be disappointed. Puzzle game fans will be delighted. Heck, you might even invent some new rules to share with the Miiverse. 

Soon Shine will be available on the Wii U eShop on August 14, 2014

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