Lovely Planet is an interesting title which was first released in 2014 for Wii U and Steam and is now making its long-awaited release on Xbox One. Developed by Quicktequila and published by Tiny Build, does this game deserve your attention as 2016 kicks off:

Lovely Planet is a unique game which on the surface looks like a very simple yet cute shooter. The player will soon discover that what Lovely Planet really has to offer is a complex speed running game that requires quick reaction times and memory skills as you race to complete levels in the fastest time possible.

Armed with a bow and infinite arrows, the player must navigate each level and take out each enemy before running into the end level marker. As you progress through the levels they grow increasingly more challenging by throwing in hazards to navigate, platform jumping, must hit moving targets and cunningly placed enemies all designed to slow you down. If you miss a jump you have to restart as will hitting a hazard, shot by an enemy or missing one of the moving targets

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Where Lovely Planet comes to life is how it blends all the gameplay aspects above to provide a real challenge to players. The pace and difficulty allow for the fundamentals to be practiced and understood before it starts to crank up the challenge. Starting with learning to shoot the bow before learning how to jump and shoot enemies and then learning to be aware of new hazards as you jump and kill enemies. Combined these elements are enough to draw the player into the game and you will soon find yourself doing what I did and replaying levels to not just improve my last time but to earn all three stars per level.

Memorizing the levels is key and next to having good reaction times, is perhaps the trickiest factor to Lovely Planet. As the levels grow more complicated, any errors will result in having to start the level again. Remembering where the hazards are enemies are coupled with learning the layout of the level is vital to complete it in the fastest time. Controls are kept basic with left trigger for jumping and right trigger for shooting. I found them responsive enough that when I did make a mistake, it was very much a result of me missing a step. The frustration from getting it wrong pushed me to do it better next time which led to improved level times.

Whilst the gameplay is fun I found the background music rather tedious as it stays the same for each zone as you play through the twenty levels they have. It soon becomes just noise which I found rather annoying after a long time playing through the zones. The visuals are also very basic which although gives Lovely Planet a natural charm, left me feeling I was playing a mobile game that somehow felt out-of-place on a main console.

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Lovely planet offers a great challenge for Gamers who enjoy speed running levels with enough aspects to test your skill every step of the way as you play through the five zones. Beating your own times can be highly addictive and put against the big blockbuster games we have all been enjoying over the Christmas holidays, it serves as a great pallet cleanser for the new year and is a true example of gameplay over graphics.

Fun, challenging but perhaps overly simplistic in its presentation, Lovely Planet delivers on what it promises but unlikely to make huge waves when the big names start to release.