This game is probably a form of torture in some parts of the world, but somehow I love it. I guess that makes me a masochist?
A hundred levels and five worlds later, and I’m finally done. 100% completion. I can sit back, let out a breath, and revel in the satisfaction of knowing that, when I set my mind to it, I can accomplish even the most challenging and meaningless of tasks.
I now also possess a deep-rooted phobia of colourful polygons, there’s kawaii hemorrhaging from my eyes and nose, and the soundtrack has turned me into a shivering, demented husk. I still think it was worth it.
So ended my time with Lovely Planet, a maddening speedrunning shooter game that makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with you – first for buying it, and then for not being able to stop playing. Each level involves guiding your character through a tiny vibrant landscape, shooting the Bad Shapes and avoiding shooting the Good Shapes until you walk into the End Level Shape to reach the next stage. Some of the Bad Shapes can shoot at you, too, and if you get hit just once you’ll be sent back to restart the level with an enormous THWACK.
Luckily, you can shoot their bullets with yours, and if you shoot a Bad Shape’s bullet then it kills them, because apparently all the Bad Shapes have some deep, spiritual link to all the bullets they send your way.
Similarly to games like Clustertruck, Lovely Planet forces you to memorise and pull off some pretty insane and strangely quite beautiful combinations of moves, particularly if you want to get 100% accuracy on each level, which, god help me, I did. You know? I can’t explain it. Just watch this gif.
As you complete each diabolical miniature level and progress further into the game, new mechanics will reveal themselves, such as Gooey Grey Stuff that sticks you in place briefly, and Bad Shapes With Hats, where the hats seemingly give them the ability to shoot guided bullets. “Because”.
Lovely Planet is a great big load of “Because” when it comes down to it, but that’s fine, because it stays true to its intention: to make a punishing, aggressively adorable arcade twitch-shooter where you’ll do the same thing a hundred times, and die a hundred times, and still keep going, because you know that one of these days you’ll input the correct combination of jumps and twirls and bounces and shots and shimmies and strafes, and finish the level. So you can do it all again with the next level.