lilt line Review
Developer: Gaijin Games / Publisher: Gaijin Games / ESRB: Everyone (No Descriptors)
lilt line, ported to WiiWare by Gaijin Games of BIT.TRIP fame, faithfully checks each bullet point on the list of design tenets this studio clearly holds dear. Simple controls, thumpin’ dubstep beats, and minimalistic game design help this game do a better job with motion controls and music gaming than titles with ten times the budget and complexity.
Forget reloading, iron sights, or story – lilt line’s complexity is on par with an Atari 2600 game: you guide a line through a level of crooked, janky, and narrow paths. The scrolling level also has vertical zones that you pass in time with the beat of the background music. Hit a button (any button) in this zone, and you keep the music going. Hit the walls too many times or miss too many beats and the game’s over.
Yep that’s it.
The real appeal in lilt line is in its crunchy dubstep tunes. Each of the game’s 15 levels play against a minute or so loop of dubstep composed by 16bit. While none of the tracks match the completeness or complexity of a fully mastered dubstep track, they’re all great dubstep loops and will set your head bobbing if dubstep sets your inner raver raving.
The selection of dubstep also influnces the level design (though using that term is a tad overkill considering each level is just a path marked out by two lines). Occasionally the track will jerk up and down erratically when the beat starts flying, or will curve up and down drastically when a massive synth hits. This isn’t done as often as I would have liked, but it does add a nice visual to the music. Additionally, the innate syncopation in dubstep means some of the beat patterns are wily. Again, the levels didn’t capitalize on this as much as they should, but what was there worked well.
lilt line’s control is its other novel feature. You control the line similarly to the paddle in BIT.TRIP BEAT. Rotating the Wii Remote sends the line curving up or down, and after playing so many Wii games that refuse to recognize my gestures or waggling, it’s refreshing to play a game that uses the motion sensing to 100% accuracy. Controlling the line is crisp, responsive, and incredibly intuitive. Seeing the line react instantly to my motion was a real treat – and I realize how weird that is to say about a line.
A lack of options is the only real control annoyance. You can’t invert the roll – once or twice I found myself naturally wanting to roll opposite to the game’s template. On top of this, the levels sometimes require you to roll the Wii Remote forward just to the uncomfortable threshold. Doing this repeatedly produced a bit of strain in my wrists, but it wasn’t painful. The biggest problem came in dexterity. Rolling the Wii Remote forward makes it hard to actually push any of the buttons, which you need to tap when passing beat markers. I eventually settled on a weird solution where I wrapped my left index and ring finger around the left side of the Wii Remote, freeing up my right fingers from stabilization duty. Playing with the claw hand was a little awkward but damned if I wasn’t finishing the game.
Like the rest of lilt line, minimalism drives the visuals that – thanks to lots of straight lines and day-glo – look like an early 90s backdrop for school pictures. The game’s title is a simple two-tone magenta and neon green, and the game tracks are painted with broad and bright colors that look like a hat that one of the New Kids on the Block might have worn. As someone who spent his formative years in the early 90s, this gaudy color palette is oddly charming.
A visualization of random polygons flashes in the background each time you hit a beat marker to add some visual spice. This looks great and can play tricks on your eyes when it starts strobing and stuttering.
lilt line is an awesome little proof of concept that justifies its $5 cost with around an hour of bangin’ beats. Jaded and retro gamers will enjoy the minimalist design, while dubstep fans will enjoy the fresh tracks and representation of one of electronica’s up and coming genres.
7 / 10