Project Rub Reader Review
Sega have done it again, and I knew as soon as the title kicked in with its animation and music. With my headphone earbuds firmly in place, the swinging animation accompanied with its bouncy and punchy music shot through my retina and eardrums (respectively, obviously) and pulled my cheek muscle to form a wide smile on my face. I could have happily sat there for ageS (ha de ha ha - for us old timers, in gaming terms), listening to the music and watching the animation over and over again, because there is just something about it that shows skill and experience.
So, the game itself is the story of 'love at first sight' of a man who passes a woman in the street. He (that is, you) have to win her heart through a series of tasks that either impress or save her. Luckily, you're not on your own, because as soon as your man turns round at the sight of the woman, a man with bunny ears comes up and gives you a goldfish bowl (with goldfish). Just what the heck is going on here? And it soon becomes apparent that this is not your average Japanese dating game in trying to befriend the girl (erm... or so I've heard), because someone stumbles into you and manages to get the fish down into his stomach. And so starts the fun; using the touchscreen you have to coax them out of his stomach and get him to regurgitate them. Fun!! After all that, the woman of your dreams is standing out at the front of the crowd, applauding your demonstration. Oh yes, it's going to be this sort of game.
It instantly harked back to the minigames that Sega can so proficiently add into a game, Virtua Tennis and Crazy Taxi specifically, but also where Sega can create novel and interesting games out of a series of minigames (Super Monkey Ball). And Project Run didn't fail to disappoint in this department either - it really is full of fun games that you wouldn't mind playing again and again - and in fact you can, as you can play any of the minigames you've successfully completed.
I really don't want to tell you any of the games that are involved because it will spoil the fun. I will say that the storyline does get obscure and so do the games, but it's a more-than-welcome aspect and will have you giggling inanely. There are some parts that may frustrate, but never enough to put you off trying again. On most, you'll get three tries to complete the minigame (at five different levels of difficulty; ten if you play them through the Extras option). Each game is accompanied by some pretty good music (that I can't get out of my head) - some may find it grating as it's the same over and over again, especially if you fail and have to start over - but the added niceties of storyboard story presentation, voice sound effects, and 'Break Time' intervals(with what I guess is supposed to be a seductive Japanese female voice, but isn't quite as she says 'Bwake Time' - kind of off-putting unfortunately) and you're likely to forget about the music and start nodding in time. Interestingly, some of the games can be completed if you listen to the timing, even though it's not essential or, I suspect, intended but you may find yourself tapping the screen in time.
Graphics and audio are fantastic, they really are - I've not been blown away by this sudden combination in a long time and it's wonderful, I just can't say how great it is. I didn't know what to expect from this game, dating games are not my thing, but Sega being Sega, there had to be something special. The mix of 3D and 2D is well executed with block colouring, and the accompanying sound effects are most likely recorded sound effects played through with little augmentation (adding to the surreal experience). There is the issue of not fully implementing the tools of the NDS; the microphone is sorely underused and there's no WiFi option. A bit of a disappointment, and the latter does limit its lifetime.
And there's a lot of "Rabbit" audio phrases spoken, too - gets a laugh with me - as you're helped by the Rub Rabbits in succeeding with the dating task. There's some sort of clothes dressing feature in which you can select different sets of clothing, although I've yet to figure out what this is for. There's also a sound and music test after you've finished the game (classic Sega feature). And again, there's the chance to replay those minigames and increase that wardrobe selection.
For me, it was a little short but well-lived game. Saying that, I finished it in two days, but then I did play for quite a while each go, but I don't know if there really is anything else that could have been added to extend the game and to keep it entertaining. There's a pretty sweet twist to the ending too, and it's oh-so-endearing.
Rent a copy if you can, or get a cheap one off eBay - do whatever, just make sure you play it through at least once. I can't wait for the sequel.