Fret Nice is an interesting attempt at doing something new. The game wants you to dust off your old Guitar Hero or Rock Band controller and breathe new life into it via a platformer. The only issue is that the last time I checked, our plastic guitars were doing a fine job of being used for the monthly Guitar Hero release from Activision and the annual Rock Band release from Harmonix. But since I like platformers and new things, this seemed like something worth trying.
Despite the fact, which you’ll learn quite quickly, that your guitar peripheral has no business being anywhere near a platforming title, it is fun to try things out. Controls are pretty simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy to perform. You move using both the yellow and green buttons. You jump by titling your guitar in the same fashion you would to activate star power in Guitar Hero. Since this can be kind of hit and miss, you also can use the red button to handle jumping. It’s all a very novel idea. It seems simple now as I write it out, but when actually executed it’s a lesson in frustration. Since you have no option to remap (configure) the buttons yourself, you’ll quickly unstrap your ax to instead go it the conventional gamepad route.
Now that you have a normal controller in your hands, you can actually start to enjoy a unique platformer that will look somewhat familiar at times to Playstation fans that’ve spent time with Loco Roco. The cutesy graphics and easy to manage levels are fun. The gameplay mechanics, when using a normal controller are pretty straight-forward. When you spot an enemy, hit attack (action) per the number of eyes the enemy has. For example, if I saw you on the street, I’d likely attack you twice. If you’re doing this with the guitar peripheral (because you’re trying to suffer for your sins or something), you’ll attack by strumming the green chord. Make sure you don’t go into each attack just unloading though. If you attack four times when only three are required, you’ll lose some bonus points.
You have a total of 12 levels in Fret Nice, with each containing various medals you will need to earn so you can unlock the next stage. You’ll likely have to drudge through some levels a few times to get all the medals. Running through a level the second time is fairly easy because everything is the same. So if something tripped you up on the first run through, at least you have a heads up the second time around.
As I mentioned earlier, the graphics are surprisingly cute and for some reason reminded me of Loco Roco on the PSP. The most surprising thing about this game is that once it loses its “hook”, it gets better. Tecmo wanted the guitar angle to move this game, but using a regular controller is the way to go here. And while the static level design may turn off some, there is a lot of fun to be had here. If you own a guitar, try it out, but more than likely, you’ll shelf the guitar within minutes. Don’t be fooled by any buzz you’ve heard. Even if you don’t own a guitar peripheral, you should pick this unique platformer up. It is better on a regular controller after all.