GAME NAME: Ballpoint Universe: Infinite
DEVELOPER(S): Arachnid Games
PUBLISHER(S): Arachnid Games
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): October 16th, 2014
Ballpoint Universe: Infinite was announced for the Wii U quite some time ago. The paper drawn artwork caught my attention right away as do many games with unique art styles. The game from Arachnid Games was one I knew I would have to play before I understood what exactly was going on in it. What Ballpoint Universe is essentially, is a 2D platforming and side scrolling shooter hybrid.
The story takes a back seat to just old school platforming in this title from Arachnid Games. What started out as a Steam game on PC, Ballpoint Universe: Infinite sees you take the reins of a ballpoint pen (hence the name) doodled character who can move around an equally as terrifically pen drawn world. You will control the character with the left analog stick and use the B button to jump. Sometimes the controls feel unresponsive and the game feels like it is skipping. These issues aren’t really enough to break the game, just something I would hope to see fixed in a patch.
In the 2D platforming levels you can collect items that will either help you explore the world further or just look pretty. The world can get confusing as each area will either have a bridge going away from the screen or towards the screen to move you to another area and you can get lost with ease. You can get some help from the supporting characters that are littered around the world but sometimes they are just as puzzling as you are. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the game as the side scrolling shooter levels is the real meat and potatoes.
In the shooter mode, you will take control of a ship and blast through enemies in a fast paced, Gradius styled level designs. It’s your stand controls where the analog stick with move the ship and the B button shoots. There are sixteen missions to embark on and you can use the in game currency of ink to purchase a good amount of upgrades and weapons for your vehicle. Each of the levels finishes with a fun but tough boss fight. This mode in my opinion is the better of the two game styles present in the game and would have held up fine as a standalone without the platforming areas.
The graphics of Ballpoint Universe: Infinite are really astounding. They take hand drawn images that use a ball point pen and make them work remarkably well in a video game. Color me impressed. I always love a fancy new art style and this knocks it out of the park. The music within the game is so-so with nothing too catchy but also nothing that is too repetitive or monotonous. Also the game makes use of off-screen play but for some reason not all of the in game menus transfer to the bottom screen. It seems like a weird oversight.
If Ballpoint Universe: Infinite had more of a Star Fox-like structure I could easily recommend it as it’s amazing hand drawn graphics and tight side scroller shooting gameplay is spot on. Unfortunately, the platforming levels are confusing and misguiding and where the gameplay feels right in the shooter levels, it feels somewhat off in these levels. Still, the game is fun and if you are a fan of 2D shooters this is worth every bit of the $4.99 Arachnid Games is asking for on the eShop.