The Chase: Felix Meets Felicity Hands-On
You better hustle if you don't want to keep your date waiting.
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There has been a noticeable boom recently in games targeted at the segment of the population that isn't male and between the ages of 18 and 34. Atari has joined forces with developer Razorback in hopes of tapping into the female demographic by bringing us The Chase: Felix Meets Felicity. The game was described to us as a platformer that is challenging and fun for any gamer, regardless of gender--nevermind the overly pink color palette. If you enjoy old-school arcade platforming sugarcoated by a cutesy love story, then you might want to take a closer look to see how this budding relationship pans out.
Felix Meets Felicity is about two young lovebirds, a delivery boy and a delivery girl, who bump into one another while out delivering packages. Like a match made in heaven, they become smitten and agree to go out on a date. The story isn't the core of the game, but it does provide a reason for having some playful dialogue in-between platforming levels. Felix Meets Felicity is an action platformer in which you autorun right or left, collecting coins, flowers, and fruit so that you can make it to your date on the other side of town. Holding down on the D pad (or you can use the face buttons if you're a lefty) will let you grind (without a skateboard) and take out anyone who gets in your way. As you slide through obstacles and men in business suits, they disappear, leaving behind a variety of fruit, because, according to the producer (and the characters), "All the best video games have fruit."
To pick up speed and momentum, you can tap in your current direction and use the downhill slopes to propel yourself over chasms or onto a higher platform. Using the stylus, you can draw lines on the touch screen to provide a path for Felix or Felicity to run or jump on. The drawing mechanic is similar to Kirby: Canvas Curse except that you're constantly on the move. How much you can draw is dependent on a meter that you can recharge by collecting fruit or jumping through red hoops. These lines are useful if you want to avoid obstacles or travel to hard-to-reach places for loot. The game encourages platform exploration, especially with all of the carefully tucked-away items. But as you progress through the level, an impending wall of rain is at your back, and if you're caught up in the storm, it's game over. This makes the exploration part tricky unless you've completely mastered the mechanics. A map on the top screen gives you the layout of the level, so you have an idea of where to go and can use it to keep a close watch on the weather. The time pressure may increase the challenge of the game, but it's unfortunate that once you lose all of your lives, you have to spend coins to continue.
If you choose to play the game as Felix, he has a higher top speed, whereas Felicity can jump higher but is a bit slower. These changes come into play especially when you play through certain areas in which you need to either race or do a lot of jumping, but it provides a bit of a challenge and switches up the gameplay experience should you choose to play through the game again. The stylus is used to draw a grappling hook in the vertical levels. Once you connect your hook with the ledge, you can swing onto the next platform. Other modes to change up the gameplay include a Time Attack mode, a Score mode, a Heart Grab mode, and Rescue mode.
There are 40 levels across eight different zones to traverse before Felix and Felicity meet. In-between levels, the back-and-forth banter between the couple will give you a hint of what's to come. Regardless of who you choose to play, you will start your journey from within the city. Your goal is to eventually make your way to the beach, but in the meantime it's all about jumping, grinding, and swinging. You'll also meet bizarre characters such as a man with a massive afro who will offer love advice if you can beat him in a race to the end of the stage. The environment is colorful and delightfully pink. The 2D character art exudes a childlike innocence, so much so in fact that the pair look much too young to be dating, let alone delivering packages or running through a busy city alone.
As girly as this game may seem, it's good to see that beneath all of the hearts, flowers, and candy, there's actually some solid gameplay to back it up. If you're eager to find out whether Felix and Felicity make it to their rendezvous, you're going to have to wait a little bit longer because the game is scheduled to be released on Valentine's Day in 2009.