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July 11, 2011

WP7 – Butterfly Review

by Master Pillow

Butterfly is one of those games that must have sounded great on paper but really flubs the execution in just about every way imaginable.  The setup is certainly easy as the player controls a butterfly with their finger as they navigate the winged insect through each level trying to pollinate flowers by flying over them causing them to bloom.  The game throws many different predatory obstacles along the way including Venus fly traps, sniping fish, bees or frogs.  Touching any of these predators causes your butterfly to momentarily stop and blink while you lose precious time but there is no such thing as dying in this game which is probably a good thing if you don’t want your young kids bawling their eyes out.

Therein lies one the game’s issues in that the player has infinite lives and is merely racing against a clock to complete the level.  The faster you manage to pollinate all the flowers and exit the level through a shining portal the better grade you receive on a scale of one to three flowers.  Obviously, the goal is to obtain a three flower rating from each board but as long as you manage to finish a level on time it unlocks the next one.

Graphically this is not a game to show your friends if you intend to showcase the visual horsepower of your spanking new Windows Phone 7 handset.  Colours are bright and animation is functional but there’s little variety between levels except for different flower and obstacle placement.  There are also no real boss fights or particularly hard puzzles (although some flowers are hidden underneath overhanging foliage) making the entire game feel like a giant trudge through the same looking levels.  The earlier levels are small and only take up one screen but get progressively bigger as the game continues but this is no positive precisely because  the game has a bad tendency to slightly lag and struggle when I moved my butterfly to the edge of the screen forcing the game to start the background scrolling.  This resulted in many unintended deaths as I had no idea what was coming next as I moved my butterfly to the side of the screen only to find it lagging and then suddenly hitting a predator Venus fly trap or bee.   This jerky screen scrolling effect really throws a wrench in manoeuvring especially in the later levels which are chalk-full of obstacles and very narrow safe paths in which the butterfly needs to successfully navigate.

As a personal note, while the Samsung Focus is definitely a top end Windows Phone 7 Gen 1 device I found that I had to take note and be careful when moving my butterfly towards the edge of the screen as there were a few instances where I wasn’t paying attention and my finger slipped onto the capacitive controls which booted me back to the home screen.

With about 80 levels in total one would expect the game to have some lasting value but alas this is not the case as the game can be completed in about half an hour or less.  After I finished my first playthrough I had achieved a three flower rating in virtually every stage and needed only about 10 more minutes to earn the ones I missed.  The only real incentive to replay any of these stages is to gain the achievements you missed but I doubt many will be keeping this installed on their mobile device once everything has been obtained.

Options and settings are sparse with the game only allowing the player to change the volume or the sound effects/music although the game does ship with language support for English, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.

Butterfly is the very definition of a casual gaming experience but I seriously doubt even the most dexterity challenged player will find it hard to complete.  As each level basically plays the same the whole endeavour becomes more of a chore than a joy.  Although Microsoft’s mobile platform is young and there is a dearth of games there’s no real reason to settle for this level of mediocrity.  Being a Windows Phone 7 exclusive, Butterfly is a poor example of the platform’s capabilities and one hopes Microsoft is a bit more stringent in its quality approval process.

Final Score: *1/2

Reviewed On: Samsung Focus

Date: April 27, 2011

Reviewed Version: 1.0

Size:  10 MB

Developer: Microsoft Game Studios/Press Start Studios

© 2011 The Galactic Pillow

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