There have been a few odd reviews appearing on Midlife Gamer as of late. I’ve seen a review written as a poem. One review was written in prose. I even saw a review once that didn’t even dare actually review the title at all, instead the said writer wrote someone a letter as an alternative. Now in no way am I being critical of this delivery. If anything I am jealous. For there is no unique way for me to communicate anything about the subject of this game, it has all been done before. Poems have been written about them. They appear in books. And sometimes people even send letters to them as well in hopes of some sort of cosmic delivery, though only Noel Edmonds has ever tried this.
I am of course referring to the stars, those wondrous, boundless, exploding masses of gas, which belch out more harmful rays and dreaded toxins than the queue for Brink at Eurogamer. I am resorting to the dreaded hyperbole in much earnest because those celestial cupboard lights are a lot more than science would have you believe. The best way to consider how important each one of the beacons is, is to assume that someone somewhere looks upon our Sun like we do the buckles on Orion’s belt. A mere smattering of light in the distance, about as significant to them as the paint that gathers on your skirting board whilst using a roller.
The problem is that even though we know the importance of our Sun the others that surround are not of equal matter. We don’t care about them as much as we do our lynch pin to the solar system. They are not worshiped, cared for or even examined with as much reverence as the one beaming light into our lives each and every day. This is a problem though that Hudson are attempting to address with My Starry Night
My Starry Night is about as much as a gaming title as bookcase is an oven. The two bear little resemblance to one another. My Starry Night is more of an animated Wikipedia page detailing all you would ever care to note about the wider world above us. MSN is you virtual at home planetarium a place to serve to allow you to stare gaze inside the bright lights of the city and with all the comforts that brings. And in MSN there are bountiful arrays of comforts that try and keep you from actually looking out of your window.
First assign the sky you wish to look at. Which is crucial to start with as you don’t want to be trailing the sky of Tokyo when you’re meant to be in London. Exact Latitude and Longitude numbers can be input if you are a sucker for accuracy but the beauty of MSN is that you’ll soon realize that once you become a dab hand at spotting one constellation the rest begin to find each other. MSN never forces information down your throat but is more like a helpful chum who has far too much knowledge about what you thought where useless marks in an otherwise perfectly black sky.
Knowing only one constellation before picking up the title, Orion, I was quickly able to see what other signs and symbols around it I could look out for next time I dared trample outside again. Tapping the + and – buttons on the Wii Mote toggles levels of info so what are just twinkle twinkles become spangle spangles. That cluster below Orion becomes his faithful dog, the other the rabbit he is hunting. That frying pan shape next to him is actually Ursa Major which I used to brashly just call the Big Dipper. What an idiot I was! But MSN has taught me well and really without me knowing it. I feel like I have had the knowledge all along and the title just acts like a cattle prod to my lacking knowledge.
It is all smartly implemented. Stargazing is an impossible task to be taught by someone else and their finger and just too broad to spend many hours studying in a formal manner, much better to press B on the Wii Mote and move the stars around. Though however well placed and leveled the educational aspect of MSN is it does struggle with perspective. It is hard to really spend much time on the title without feeling quite disorientated after awhile. The Wii Mote works fine but it never feels as responsive as it should and the constellations are so (maybe accurately so) closely spaced together that they do start to blend.
The truth is that people used to spend a lot more time looking at the stars than we used to do. A quick dive into some of MSN’s other features shows how Orion isn’t just a few stars that look like someone we know. It is all part of a form that tells his story, mapped out in the stars so no one would forget the tale of his demise. Even to this day Orion is nearly out of the sky when the Scorpio constellation rises as he hides from the animal that killed him.
MSN’s problem though is this wonderful application of knowledge. The drop in drop out nature and different levels of information you can grab at the press of the button is all finely designed but all it inspired me to do was look out of my window. More and more now I am spending my evenings trying to develop what I have learnt in such a short space of time. It doesn’t help either that I never got the feeling that I was sharing the same sky with the title. I so wanted to hover over one constellation on moment and see it over my shoulder the next, MSN just doesn’t feel like the application for this.
Hudson to me seems to be trying to push in a new trend: Apps for your games console. All this title seemed to do was scream portability, and remind me of the star maps that are available for certain mobile devices that don’t come with a thirty year old playing music on a four year olds’ key board for background ambience. MSN is on a level a fine example of how knowledge should be dealt with in a video game format and inspiring at the same time. It made want to do nothing more than never want to pick it up again and spend all my time outside, which, I think, is a good thing.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: WiiWare Release Date: 22/10/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of My Starry Night for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of three days on a Wii. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.