Although Project Rub was a launch title for the United States, PAL Aussie gamers had to wait until a couple of weeks after the Australian launch date for the game to surface. So, now we've finally got our hands on it (pun intended) are we feeling the magic?
For the uninitiated, Project Rub is best described as a dating simulator / mini game compilation. Players take on the role of a young boy who falls in love with a girl who does not notice him. The entire aim of the game is to get the girl to notice you and become your true love. Although the story isn't exactly deep it does flow along quite nicely. We're almost certain that Project Rub is one of the quirkiest games to surface in Australia for a long time.
So, how do you win the girl over? The main game (the story mode) takes place over several scenes which contain mini games. Completing these mini games will go to the next scene and a cut-scene links the story. The concept is really similar to Warioware Touched, except the mini games last a little longer. There are also boss levels which keep the game challenging. The story mode is kept interesting by being divided into three types of scenarios; super performances, boss battles and love scenes.
The top screen in Project Rub acts as a display whereas the bottom screen is where the player controls all that is happening. The player can successfully navigate the entire game without pressing a button. Project Rub is designed to showcase the capabilities of the Nintendo DS, and as such players will have to rub the screen, blow into the microphone, shout at the DS and touch the screen at least once during the game.
Each minigame comes with a written introduction explaining what to do, so understanding all the mini games is no issue, although some of the games are extremely bizarre. Aside from the story mode in Project Rub there are two other modes for players to participate in. There is a memories option which is where every minigame can be replayed with increasing difficulty. The objective is just to get as high as possible.
The other playable mode in the game is the Maniac option. This allows the player to customise the look of the girl they are lusting over. The items you can change are hairstyle, clothes and shoes. These items are unlocked by finding the one hundred hidden bunnies in the game.
Alternatively, if a supported Game Boy Advance game is inserted then players can unlock an item from that game. For example, inserting Sonic Advance into the GBA slot of the DS unlocks spiky hair for the girl. Some of the supported GBA games for this include Sonic Advance 1 - 3, Sonic Pinball Party, Chu Chu Rocket and Sonic Battle.
This picture is pretty self-explanatory.
The game play in Project Rub is one of its greatest assets. It is fast, frantic and addictive. At times the mini games can become quite difficult, but not so much so that the game feels unfair. The difficulty level is really varied, with a well judged learning curve implemented. One of the problems with compilations is that not everyone can be happy, and while some of the mini games are great, some of them are really boring. However, the majority of the mini games are good.
One of the most surprising and disappointing omissions from this game is the lack of a multiplayer mode. There is no multiplayer featured in the game at all, and for a game that utilises nearly all of the Nintendo DS's features, we are surprised this one wasn't used. The potential for a mini game tournament was there.
It's extremely hard to judge the graphics in Project Rub as most of the images are static. The style and art direction of the game does is great, but the graphics aren't sensational. However, the graphics really aren't that important in a game like this.
In true SEGA fashion, the music in Project Rub is addictive but not tedious. It fits in really well with the nature of the game and is much more different than most game music.
The story mode of Project Rub is disappointingly short and we really expected it to last longer. The hidden bunnies and unlockable costumes will ensure those who like to collect will be kept amused for hours more. The lack of a multiplayer mode is really disappointing and could have added to the lifespan more, there are a few novel unlockables but they don't make up for the story's length (or lack of).
Project Rub is unlike anything we're ever played and this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It takes a little while to adjust to the game but, once you do it becomes addictive very quickly. There are a few downfalls of the game, such as the short story mode and little number of mini games in comparison to WarioWare Touched but Project Rub is still an entertaining game - while it lasts.