Sprung Updated Hands-On
We get to second base with Ubisoft's upcoming dating sim.
The last time we saw Ubisoft's DS game Sprung we got a random sampling of the action, and it left us curious as to how the proper game was going to play out. Fortunately, we've been able to get our hands on a more complete version of the game to see just how all the pieces fit together. So far the game looks to be a mix of old-school text-based adventures, well-done 2D art, and a healthy dose of sass.
You'll find two main options in the game when you fire it up: play and extra. Play sends you off into the game's story mode, which we'll get to in a second. The extra mode lets you check out an in-game museum, art gallery, and music room. The museum lets you check out the assorted items you'll collect in your adventure; the art gallery will house various images that you'll unlock as you progress; and finally, the music room lets you listen to the various music tracks in the game, and you can even alter aspects of them, like the songs' speed and pitch.
While the extras are a nice diversion, obviously the core of Sprung is its dating adventure. You'll be able to play as either Becky, a blonde party girl nursing a broken heart after a recent break up, or Brett, a classy dude out to seduce lifelong friend Becky. Each character will have his and her own unique adventure to play through, although they will also share similar goals, such as getting some play. You'll be helped along by their friends, who seem to define the words, "mixed blessing." While it's nice to have the moral support of an entourage, your buddies will invariably get you into trouble. This ends up working out pretty well for Sprung's scenario-driven gameplay, as there's nothing like a wacky misadventure you have to talk your way out of to help a dating sim move along.
The gameplay in Sprung is pretty basic. You'll simply work your way through the different scenarios in each character's journey to getting some play. The bulk of the time you'll simply have to make the right choices on the conversation tree. However, there will also be times when you have to use items that you've collected over the course of your adventure. When playing as Becky, we recommend trying the pepper spray at least once, since it's fun to blind people and get arrested. The dialogue features some branching paths, but there appears to be only one way to get through each scenario successfully. As you get deeper into the game, the scenarios will get longer. There will be checkpoints that you can continue from if you fail the scene, so you don't have to restart the game completely.
The 2D visuals in Sprung hinge more on style than on the hardware, which is fine. The stylized art features clean lines, and it is complemented by smooth animation that differs from the choices you highlight on the conversation tree. The game features a number of different locations set around the Snowbird hotel and ski resort, which is represented by static backgrounds.
The audio in the game is good, but it features a modest offering of music and sound samples. Our work-in-progress version of the game features a variety of different tunes to suit the many situations you'll find yourself in, and yes, there's even a hot tub theme. There aren't any voice samples for characters, although there's a bit of voice in the music, which is disappointing. While we didn't expect every line of dialogue to be scripted, some Zelda-esque sound samples thrown in at key moments would be nice.
Now that we've spent some time with a proper version of Sprung, we have mixed feelings about it. The game looks good and offers passable support for the DS' two screens, but it doesn't seem like it was necessary for it to be on the DS. Still, for what it is, Sprung offers a unique experience that should appeal to some. Sprung is currently slated to ship early in December for the Nintendo DS.
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