French developer Press Start Studio is best known for their hardcore action game, Twin Blades. Yet their second Xbox Live game for Windows Phone 7 lies at the opposite end of the gaming spectrum; Butterfly is one of the simplest, most casual Xbox Live games on Microsoft's mobile platform.
The object of the game is to steer the titular Butterfly around a garden, touching flowers to make them bloom. Players drag the butterfly with a finger to move. Once all of the flowers in a stage have been pollinated, an exit flower appears and it's off to the next garden.
Fly past the break for our full review.
Nobody likes a carnivore
Predators complicate the butterfly's mission. Frogs, carnivorous plants, and koi fish come from higher up on the food chain, and that makes butterflies fair game. Players must dodge their attacks to stay alive. Another insect also makes trouble. Bees are jerks, just like in real life. They function as stationary landmines, killing the player who flies into them.
Easy is as easy does
Death isn't much of an impediment in Butterfly. Players have unlimited lives, so the timer becomes the true villain. Each set of 8 stages shares the same timer. Finishing a set with lots of time to spare gets you up to three medals. Waste a bunch of time getting eaten and stung and it's game over. In theory then, the challenge is to complete levels quickly by avoiding too many deaths. But in practice, I managed to complete the whole game with three stars in all but one stage on my first try, and I certainly never ran out of time. Butterfly is too easy for its own good.
Short like insect
Brevity compounds the lack of challenge. While there are 10 stages containing 8 sub-stages each, they can all be completed in less than an hour. Better times (yawn) and collecting missed Achievements can add extra playtime, but not much. As for the Achievements, they primarily consist of dodging each type of predator’s attack 100 times and 20 times without taking a hit. It’s a cinch to jump back into a completed level, find a predator, and just dodge away. No hyperbole - after one hour, I had beaten the game and scored all 12 Achievements. They don't come much shorter than this.
Butterfly also suffers from a severe lack of personality. There is absolutely no story or even an ending to tie the game’s levels together. The butterfly and enemies all look flat and plain, and their movements look like bad Flash animations. Humorous animations would have breathed some life into them. The game’s overhead perspective lacks depth, though the trees above the garden do cast shadows or obscure the player’s view at times. The garish color palette fails to impress. I do like the catchy title tune, though the ethereal stage music is nothing special.
Butterfly is as generic as its name. It was likely just a contractual obligation to the developer so that Microsoft could have a sufficient number of Windows Phone 7 launch games. This game is mildly enjoyable for a few minutes but the complete lack of game play depth, challenge, or charm mean you won’t return to it when all is said and done. Butterfly would be appropriate for young children though. Everyone else should pass unless they don’t mind paying a few bucks for some incredibly fast and easy Achievements.
Butterfly costs $2.99 on the Marketplace. If you haven’t been scared away, there is a free trial. Grab the game here (Zune link) in the Marketplace.