games / Reviews

Fret Nice (PSN) Review

February 6, 2010 | Posted by Mark Salmela

Title: Fret Nice
Publisher: Tecmo
Developer: Pieces Interactive
Genre: Music Platformer
Players: 2
Rated: E for Everyone

Are you ready to rock with Aerosmith, AGAIN?! Wait, this music based action game has nothing to do with Revolution-X? But I thought music was the wea… oh nevermind.

Fret Nice is actually a 2D platformer in the sense that Mario and Sonic are 2D platformers. You run from left to right, and you encounter enemies and obstacles along the way. What sets Fret Nice apart from the competition is how you attack enemies in the game. You attack enemies using the power of music. You can play Fret Nice with either a standard PS3 controller or you can use a guitar peripheral. Guitar Hero controller, Rock Band controller, even third party controllers from Nyko will work.

I’m going to start out with the positives since it may seem up ahead that I have a lot of complaints about Fret Nice. First off the game looks great. It has a unique art style that really works for what it’s trying to accomplish. Everything in the game looks like a high quality paper cutout. The graphics are bright and colorful, and it sets a very appealing mood. Your character can be customized with accessories, different clothes, and even different guitars. For a game that’s dependent on its music the developers certainly didn’t cut corners around the graphics.

The other big positive I’d like to mention for Fret Nice is the music. The music in Fret Nice is very catchy and will be stuck in your head after a play through. The best way to describe the music is that it is a very geeky rock, borderline alternative in some areas. While some of the music is original, some of the music is inspired by other songs, albeit with a heavier focus on the guitar.

To attack enemies in Fret Nice you must first jump in the air and then start pressing buttons on the controller to have your avatar make riffs on his or her guitar. The attacking system works as follows: each enemy is a black blob with certain objects on his face. You have to recreate the face to kill the enemy. You create certain aspects of the enemies face such as the eyes by hitting different notes on the guitar peripheral or different buttons on the controller. Once you have hit the correct amount of notes to recreate the face, for example two eyes and a mouth, the enemy explodes. Sounds confusing? Well you do get the hang of it, but the problem is that it’s not that fun after a while.

The first problem I have with the attacking system in Fret Nice is that you have to jump in the air to attack enemies. I don’t understand why you have to jump to start playing the guitar. None of the buttons are the same or have more than one function assigned to them, so it’s not a problem on the controller side. When you’re using a guitar especially you jump by swinging your guitar up in the air like you’re activating star power, so it gets incredible annoying trying to jump by waggling the controller. There’s a reason Wii games abandoned this sort of function quickly for platformers, it’s tedious and not fun. Now you can activate a help feature in the menu that will allow you to move the jump to the red fret key on the Guitar Hero controller, but that doesn’t make the process a whole lot better.

The second problem I have with the attacking system is how repetitive it gets. I like the design of the enemies, but after a while they all start to look the same. Pressing buttons to recreate the eyes, ears, mouths, and accessories of the enemies such as bandages starts to get old after a while. I do like the mechanic of killing multiple enemies with just one set of guitar riffs, but it doesn’t make up for how awkward it can be to jump in the air before you can start attacking enemies. The boss battles are pretty fun, although once again it’s not enough to make up for the awkward combat system.

The last big problem I have with the game is that there is a medal system where you need to collect a certain amount of medals before moving on to the next level. For the first few levels you won’t have a problem getting the required amount of medals to move on but eventually you’re going to have to backtrack the levels to collect more medals before you can move on. Now as I said the art style is great and the music is catchy, but the level design is not very good and replaying levels gets very repetitive very quickly. This right here could be the killer. It just isn’t fun to replay the levels; most of them are bland and repetitive. And you won’t be able to beat the game without replaying several levels multiple times.

The 411


Peace, I’m off to the Aerosmith concert.

Fret Nice has a lot of things going for it. There aren’t many 2D platformers available on the PSN. Most of the 2D games are action adventure shooters such as the recent Matt Hazard game. Fret Nice has a nice art style and the music is catchy. But the problem lies in that the combat system is awkward. You shouldn’t have to jump in the air every time you want to attack enemies. You’re attacking them with guitar riffs not your physical body. I will be the first to admit that I do not like using guitar peripherals. I had to borrow one for this review because I don’t own any. But any way you look at it controlling a platformer with a guitar peripheral just doesn’t work. And when you switch to a regular controller Fret Nice becomes just another platformer with an awkward attacking system. Fret Nice had potential, but unfortunately not a whole lot came out of the idea.


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Mark Salmela

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