Grand Theft Froot

This game received a Second Chance with the Chick.  Click here to read the definitive review of Grand Theft Froot

Why would anyone name a 2-D action-platform game “Grand Theft Froot” when it in no way resembles the name sake it’s clearly evoking?  Since this is an action-shooter, wouldn’t “Call of Frooty” or “Frootroid” have been better?  Feel free to use those names in the future, Frooty Game Studios.

So the name didn’t inspire confidence but my optimism rose upon booting up the game.  You play as a girl who wakes up with no memory and must traverse a series of sprawling labyrinths for a mysterious element known as “Froot.”  Every level has a different amount and all the Froot must all be obtained to complete the stage.  You’re armed with a gun that has a limited charge and the ability to fire at two different strengths.  You can press Y to fire a fully-powered blast or you can press X if you are a fucking moron.  Weaker blasts have no strategical advantage over stronger ones except they take up less of the gun’s energy, which gradually recharges automatically.  There’s very few instances where you won’t have enough power to fully dispatch all the enemies on screen.  It seemed like a waste of a button to me.

I wanted to enjoy GTF a whole lot, but every time I felt like I was about to have a good time, something happened that zapped all that away, like an Indian-giver dispensing fun.  The story was well thought out and had some interesting plot points, but you’re told it by a series of pop-ups that happen right in the middle of the action.  And I mean that literally.  You’ll be hopping around trying to avoid pits or enemies or cannon fire when all of a sudden a window will pop up, obscuring the entire screen and causing you to lose health.  This was a dick move extraordinaire.  It also doesn’t help that the studio behind Grand Theft Froot sent me a request to review this along with the big plot twist being spelled out for me.  Thanks guys.  By the way, Harry marries Ginny at the end of the last Harry Potter.

Every step forward by GTF was followed by a step backwards.  The levels are well designed but there’s no checkpoints so if you die you go back to the start, retaining any XP you get but losing any gold.  Upgrades to your character are done through experience-grinding, which any rational person recognizes as the most boring thing to happen to gaming since Pictionary.  You can buy items that help you out but once you own the shielding unit and the regeneration unit the game is pretty much over.  The level-up system is lifted straight from Castle Crashers (is this the grand theft they were talking about?) and allows you to upgrade your health, gun strength, gun-charge rate, and agility.  Of these, you’ll need the health only until you have enough money to buy either the shield or regeneration unit.  A gun upgrade can also be bought but I found just putting it high enough to pick off most of the early creatures in two shots worked best.  And I never upgraded the gun-charge until I had nothing else left to put points into.

Navigating the boards is a bit tricky.  Some of them are downright huge, but without a map system or checkpoints you can end up with lots of boring backtracking or replaying.  The standard enemies all offer a fair challenge, and the boss battles are fun if a bit flat.  The biggest problem I had was with the wall cannons.  These are the primary obstacle of the game.  They’re all over the place, indestructible, and it’s nearly impossible to get their patterns down.  Sometimes it feels like they’re placed perfectly to offer the right degree of difficulty to clearing a gap or platforming section and keeping the player on their toes.    But often there’s just too damn many of them and it turns GTF into an almost bullet-hell situation.  Your character also has that annoying Castlevania-like thing where you fly backwards after being hit.  Thus sometimes you’ll be on a moving platform only to get shot by an off-screen cannon or enemy, fly backwards and into a pit of acid that you can’t reasonably escape from, forcing you to restart the level.  I rolled my head towards the ceiling in frustration so much I was able to count the amount of tiles just from doing that.

You know what’s a real crying shame?  Somewhere in here is a really great game.  Dare I say that if only two or maybe three of the problems were fixed it would be one of the better games on the marketplace.  The concept is good, the story is very well told, the level design is very clever and they got the “feel” of everything just right. But the flaws are so deep that I can’t in good consciousness recommend Grand Theft Froot… for now.

You see, this is the first game by Frooty Game Studios, which is made up of a husband-and-wife team.  They have talent.  It shows in every level and every new piece of the story.  Grand Theft Froot is a functional, playable game, just a deeply flawed one.  Talent is not something that can be learned.  You either have it or you don’t, and these guys do.  Now they just need to learn to build a better game.  Maybe following their next release I’ll tell people “go buy it and go buy Grand Theft Froot to see how it’s possible to learn and improve in an industry where few do.”  Unless of course it turns out to be Froot Nukem Forever.

Grand Theft Froot was developed by Frooty Game Studios

80 Microsoft Points had the ending spoiled for them by overzealous developers in the making of this review. 

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

3 Responses to Grand Theft Froot

  1. I’ve just added your review to our facebook page for GTF. Once again thanks for taking the time to check it out and sorry for the spoiler! The criticisms are welcome and encouraged – can’t fix what we don’t know is broken.

  2. Pingback: Grand Theft Froot (Second Chance with the Chick) « Indie Gamer Chick

  3. jdanddiet says:

    I’m glad you gave GTF a second chance. I like it warts and all.

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