Shorts Review

By Darryl Kaye on September 1, 2009

Shorts is a game developed exclusively for the Nintendo DS by Artificial Mind & Movement and it's based off the film that's also called Shorts. It follows the adventures of characters that appear in the film as they traverse through various levels in a 2D platform adventure, against some interesting foes.

There is essentially no story in Shorts, and gameplay revolves around three independent episodes. In each episode players will be treated with a new character, and a their objective is to just get to the end of the level. There is a boss at the end of each episode, but they aren't seen at any other point throughout the episode. It would have been nice if the game offered some kind of incentive, but it's not much of a problem.

Gameplay is similar to that of any 2D Platformer. The player has the ability to move around, jump, use a unique move and also use a special move. With there being three episodes, and three characters, each one offers a new set of challenges. In the first episode for example, the character can grow plants, which allows him to reach high platforms. Orbs can also be collected, and after collecting a certain amount a special move can be performed. This varies depending on which character can be used, but it isn't a crucial aspect to the gameplay.

As the game progresses, it introduces a few more puzzle elements, and it's not simply a case of moving from left to right in order to complete the level. Keys also need to be collected in order to progress through certain sections and it helps to make the gameplay a bit more challenging. However, as it's a game targeted towards kids, it's not exactly the most demanding game. It's fun though, and that's what's important.

Some problems do arise when the stylus is introduced. The problems aren't with its purpose in the gameplay, but more its usage by the player. Generally players will have their left hand on the d-pad, and their right hand on the face buttons. This means that using the stylus quickly can become quite troublesome. Fortunately this isn't much of an issue most of the time though, as the stylus is used to draw straight lines. These can be used to gain access to higher platforms, stop lasers or to defend against enemies. There is usually a limited number of lines that can be drawn, so their positioning is quite important. The collectable respawns quite quickly though, so it's always easy to just try again.

Graphically the game is pretty standard, as is the sound. It's not going to win any awards for either, but it's pleasant to look at. The animations are also quite good and there is voice acting present, which is quite a nice addition, even if it's very sparse. On some of the boss fights, there are 3D elements in the backgrounds, which can't actually be interacted with, and these actually look a bit lower in graphical quality. However, it's not really a major issue and the boss fights are generally quite short.

Where the game is significantly let down is with its length. Each level takes around 3-4 minutes to complete, and there isn't a huge number of levels available in the game. It's slightly disappointing to find a game that can be completed so quickly especially as there is also extremely limited amounts of replayability too, as nothing is unlocked upon completing the game. The only thing players can do is try to collect all of the hearts throughout the main campaign, but there is no real incentive to do so aside from increasing the amount of health a player has. Players can also try to beat their times for levels, but again, there is no real incentive.

Final Thoughts

Shorts is actually quite fun to play, it's just a shame that it has too much in common with its title. The game can realistically be completed in under 2 hours and there's no real reason to play it again upon completion. The key gameplay is fun though, and the puzzle elements help to keep fresh. It's just a shame the game wasn't longer, as much more could have been done to develop upon the core gameplay that's present.

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