Dating sims have been around for a long time in Japan, but how does it fair when a French game development studio creates one for the US market?
Sprung is a game that pretty much does everything wrong. It is slow, it is boring, and the player?s input is minimal. In fact, this DS game could have been made into a book as the player?s only gameplay option is to select text with either the D-pad or with the stylus.
The player is given the option at the start to choose between one of two main characters: male or female. The objective of the game is hook up with the opposite sex by responding through text based menus. However, gamers will be let down by the fact there is no ?action? in the game. The game has a Teen rating so no nudity or cursing will be placed within the game. This is a let down because why else would someone want to play through a dating sim when there is no final reward.
This game makes simple use of the system?s dual screens. The playable character is displayed on the bottom screen while the person who is on the receiving end of the conversation is placed on the top screen. Each character is always displayed on screen to show facial expressions. Naturally, a bad facial expression means the character you?re trying to pick up is disgusted with you. The uglier the expression, the less luck you will have with whoever you are talking too. This is somewhat of a clever idea, but it doesn?t really do the game justice due to lack of quantity in the graphics department. Each character is animated extremely fluidly, but lack any significant variety. All animations are repeated frequently just like the background patterns.
Each conversation is nothing more than trial and error. Respond with the correct answers and you move onto the next round. Respond with the wrong answers and you have play the session over again until the player gets it right. Each conversation has checkpoints, but they are spaced out in a way that seem to be completely random. Plus, the checkpoints don?t really help because if you get answers wrong, you will most likely want to start at the very beginning anyway.
Occasionally, the player will obtain items that they can use during a conversation to try and swing the mood a certain way. For example, you might want to try using your joke book when initiating a conversation. However, the vast majority of the time items do not have any effect on a conversation even though the responding character will react positively or negatively. The items seem like a last minute add-in as the designers probably felt like they needed to spice up the boring gameplay.
The music in this game is decent, but it becomes headache inducing when you are forced to play through a conversation a dozen times. Another disappointment lies within the lack of voice work. Every single line of text must be read by the player. There is no voice work at all, not even for simple expressions. What a let down.
Sprung is definitely a unique game, but it is not a very good one. The only incentive for the player to read through this quest is to get to the ?scoring? scene, or at least see some kind of amusing, curse-filled rant telling your character to?ahem??buzz off.? But since these scenes don?t exist, there isn?t even a novelty reason to play this game. The trial and error form of play becomes tedious, and the game only uses the D-pad or stylus to make selections. Boring is the best and only word to describe this game. Do not play Sprung, even if you are into dating sims.
And just for the record, Sprung is officially the first bargain bin Nintendo DS game as it can be found new for under $9.99 at your local EB Games.