Pollen Sonata is an indie game project that one day hopes to get released on the Wii. For now, they simply have a gameplay trailer, background info and a tech demo (Half Life 2 and Steam required).
According to the website, the goal of Pollen Sonata is to “create a game that gives the player a unique experience that feels like a fresh breath of air from current games in the market. We are striving for innovation in gameplay and story. The feeling and mood of the game is [sic] poetic and serene, unfolding like a beautiful piece of music.” This seems to be the case when watching the trailer, which shows a charming background story, calming music and colorful visuals.
Problems arrive however when playing the tech demo. While the graphics would surely be polished for a retail release, the gameplay itself is like the jetpack level of Pilotwings. Your pollens can ride the wind from one flower to another, taking on a variety of shapes to move up, down or forward. For every fun leap you make between flowers, there will be a frustrating misses and near misses as you battle with the wind. Furthermore, the game can be beaten in ten minutes if you’re good enough. I don’t blame a tech demo for being short, but I wonder what else the developers could possibly add to give the game some genuine play value.
This is one of the major cruxes of indie development. Some developers go for games that are far from original, but are so polished and tested that they play as good as a retail release. Others go for innovation in story and presentation, to try to create a work of art, but then struggle to make something that is genuinely fun. I’ve seen arguments for both sides, but for now I think I’ll hold off judgment on Pollen Sonata until I see some later builds. I always admire entrepreneurship, and these folks deserve a chance