"BasketBelle" is an 2D adventure game that utilizes many different elements from other video game genres. This game has you playing as a little boy without a name although I nicknamed him "Son" as that's the first thing they called him in this game. "Son" is the son of an nameless basketball legend (according to Son that is) although for the sake of this review we will call him "Father". Son just loves playing basketball and wants to be a great player like his dad is. Father introduces a surprise to Son and that is that Son is now a brother of a healthy little girl named "Belle" (the only officially named character in this game). Son is having a good time trying to teach Belle the basics of basketball but during one session we see the ball bounce out of the yard and Son goes after the ball. Once Son returns with the ball he see something that scares him and that was that Belle got kidnapped by a group of "Purple Tentacle Monsters". Son is now on a mission to rescue his dear sister Belle by searching for her and beating the Purple Tentacle Monsters at a game of basketball. It's little boy verses literal monsters of basketball in "BasketBelle". (Click "Read More" to read the full review).
The story in this game is very short but also very sweet as it tells a touching and imaginative story that'll put a smile on your face. The gameplay in this game is a platforming adventure with some sports and puzzle elements mixed in. Each level will have you doing something different whether it be playing one-on-one against monsters, trying to figure out how to move around pillars so you can have a clear shot of the hoop, or flying around the city trying to stop flying monsters. While they all play differently as they all have two things in common, balls and monsters. Each stage is very fun and unique with a lot on imagination put into them and battling the monster was very charming as it reminded me of a blend of "NBA Jam (1993)" and "Shadow of the Colossus (2005)".
Controls in this game are simple as you mainly just run around and hit a jump button. Handling the ball is just as simple as all you do is walk up to one and automatically grab it by touching it. When you've got the ball in your grasp and are ready to throw it you just hold down the shoot button to get ready for a shot and when you are ready you just release the button. You can also slide by holding down the down button while running, be careful not to let go of the down button for too long as if you prematurely let go of the button you'll just be shot back to the place before you started sliding and that can get a little frustrating. The sliding also could've been a bit tighter as it was a bit loose and finicky but thank goodness you don't have to do it much. Lastly you gain the ability to fly and all you have to do to fly is just repeatedly press the jump button. Minus the sliding you'll find that the controls in this game are very tight and responsive to if there was a mistake made the game wouldn't be to blame.
Another rare complaint I have with this game is that it is very short to where I ended up beating the game four times in a row in one sitting. Even if that is a complaint it is a very minor one as I say in in a way because I loved the game so much that I wanted there to be more adventures with the characters. This game has a decent replay value due to not only how fun it was but this game also had multiple endings and so it was fun trying to see them all, good luck trying to figure out how to unlock them though (or just skip to later on in the review and you'll find a hint to the answer). This game is also very easy to beat and you'll only find that some of the puzzles in the first part of the game to be the only thing that comes close to being tricky.
Graphics in this game have a very cute cardboard cut-out look to it and it looks good and really compliments the game's story and gameplay very well. Animation in this game is very smooth and the only time I found anything that looked weird was when you fail to complete a slide correctly as the animation looked awkward due to being crushed in a small space. The soundtrack in this game is very awesome as it uses a weird dreamy style that works perfectly with the game.
This game does come with a special features section that you can find by going to your Steam game list, search for "BasketBelle" in the game list, right click "BasketBelle" and select "Properties", click on "Local Files" and then click "Browse Local Files", and Bob's your uncle. Stuff you'll find in this section includes the flash/browser version of the game, the soundtrack to this game, a special "Making Of" documentary, and a special PDF file full of artwork. The flash/browser version of the game plays just like the Steam version but on a web browser so there really isn't anything I need to add here as I'll just be repeating what I've said in this review already. The soundtrack is pretty cool (like I said in the music section of this review) and was extra nice that it was added here at no extra cost as this could've easily been released as paid for DLC... Actually this whole "Bonus Features" section could've been paid for DLC but it wasn't and that is cool.
The "Making Of" video was just a link to a special unlisted YouTube video to save space and that's understandable. The video itself was pretty good as not only was it full of neat information about the "making of" process of the game but this video also serves as a nice commentary about things that happened in the game itself. The video was worth a watch and can be watched right here but be warned as it is full of spoilers (like how to see the other endings *cough* there's the hint *cough*).
Overall this was a very good experience and is one of the more original games I have played in a good while. This is a game I can recommend all to play but don't go into this one expecting it to be a straight up sports title although a straight up basketball game based on this graphic style would be also good. Fun game.
Developer/Publisher: Studio Bean
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer, Puzzle, Sports
Price: $4.99 (Steam)