Fret Nice is one of the newest Xbox Arcade titles. It's developed by Pieces Interactive and it's a 2D platformer with quirky graphics that promises to "Rock Your World", however... Even the interesting graphics can't save a game that starts with a brutal title, and ends with the horrible execution of a decent idea.
You're a musician, and you're running around the levels collecting musical notes and such for points. All the while you're obliterating enemies by jumping in the air, and then pressing a sequence of buttons that "match" the enemies in order to defeat him. However, it's not colour coded, or simple "press X, Y, B" rather the enemies are black blobs with X number of eyes, X number of ears and X mouths and when you jump in the air, pressing different controller buttons produces a bubble over you head that is supposed to match the enemies. If they match, the enemy dies. It's nothing overly complicated, and it gets boring real fast. Not to mention that if you put a few too many eyes or ears, you still kill the enemy... so when you get bored, it just becomes a button mashing nightmare.
The design of the levels are meant to be re-playable, however it often leads to a very confusing situation where you're not sure if you're supposed to be jumping on the drums ( to get tossed in the air ) or if you can jump on a certain ledge or if it's just part of the background etc... It all leads to a very distracted experience as you fumble you're way through it all. I'm assuming the theory behind it is that you can come back, replay the level over and over and get better at it, and post faster scores and reach hidden areas... but really, no one is going to do that to themselves, and if they did it's probably borderline self torture, and they need to see someone about that.
While it was boring, and repetitive I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that someone somewhere would like it... and that's when it happened. The boss fight.
Now I'm somewhat of a completionist, and I like to explore all the areas of a level in games, even ones that are timed, and I passed a section that looked like I could go "in" a building or something, but I'd just disappear behind it, and then couldn't go any further. So back to where I was headed, and that's when the boss spawned... a pile of the enemies all rolled together, with masks on ( so I couldn't see what sequence I had to play! OH NO!! ). I jumped, I smashed buttons, I ran away, nothing was stopping him.. I was back at the building that I tried to go in, and the ball of enemies rolling in on me... SPLAT. Continue? ( Do I dare? )... I pressed start and suddenly I was INSIDE the building... the background, or rather foreground disappeared and I was running away, inside the building that apparently now I can go in. Next, a hole, with what looked like a ledge on the other side, but the screen wouldn't scroll any further. "Great now what?!" I jumped, I smashed more buttons and he kept coming... and I died... again... Continue? ( Why me?!?! ) I pressed start and poof... I feel down the hole. Dead? Nope! that's what I was supposed to do. I landed on a skateboard that I powered by pressing X! and NOW the boss fight starts... matching "riffs" with the enemies ahead of me, and smashing X to keep myself ahead of the rolling ball of baddies with masks! Basically I kept jumping and smashing the buttons in order to match everything, no skill, just mashing and I was getting combos and kills and staying ahead of the Ball-O-Baddies until I reached the now familiar end of level helicopter and I flew away. Level complete.
If that little anecdote confused and frustrated you... go drop 1200 points on this game and get a sense of frustration, boredom and just plain stupidity.
The game gives you the option to play with a guitar controller if you have one, but it's even more broken. I tried doing it that way at first, since it was a "music" game, but that is definitely not the better option. You tilt the guitar to jump and then press your "riffs" but they include the buttons that make your character move ( Yellow and Green ). So I hit yellow to make an eye for example and I would start floating away from the enemy I was trying to kill, and get too far away and it would fail. I'd have to jump OVER the enemy, and then play the riff so then I wouldn't float out of range. It was just an all around frustrating experience.
We've come to expect some really good value and entertainment from arcade games. Developers and publishers ( Shame on you Tecmo! ) should know that they can't get away with releasing crap anymore!
The Way I See It: Horrible controls, busted gameplay and a frustrating experience. Give the points away to someone before you spend them here!