An understated Windows Phone 7 exclusive release, Butterfly is another of Microsoft Studios’ Xbox LIVE enabled titles that defy genre classification. The generic ‘action’ label doesn’t really fit, but Butterfly clearly isn’t a puzzle videogame. What it most definitely is however, is a relaxing interactive entertainment challenge.
The closest comparison that could be offered to Butterfly would be Konami’s classic Frogger. While the Japanese developer has tried to modernise their amphibian franchise time-and-time again, they’ve been too hemmed-in by the formula, a template which doesn’t allow much room for reinterpretation without breaking it laws to the point of being a different videogame experience entirely. Butterfly however, is a reflection of what made Frogger great to begin with, and offers a new interpretation on modern hardware. This isn’t an attempt to modernise Konami’s ill-fated mascot, it’s taking the basic principles and repackaging them.
Developed by Press Start Studios, Butterfly tasks the player with leading their butterfly avatar through small arenas with the goal of awakening all the flowers present in order to open an exit. This basic principal is complicated by the inclusion of frogs, carniverous plants and snapping koi fish, all ready to halt your progress. In reality none of these obstacles will be so damaging as to end your run, but Butterfly isn’t meant to be directly challenging in it’s basic presentation; this is high score gameplay at it’s finest.
Each level gives players a rating upon completion, with three stars up for grabs on each of its ten levels. The first five will present very little challenge to any experienced gamer, though suggesting that the last half of the videogame can be completed with top marks with the same laissez-faire attitude would be nothing less than a false accusation. Butterfly isn’t designed to be an aggressive experience, but it will occasionally throw an unexpected hurdle in your path.
The visual design of Butterfly is remarkably pleasant. Bright colours and bold sprite design create a world that is never less than charming. The animation is superb and the touchscreen control is perfectly responsive.
While Butterfly doesn’t exactly rock the mobile gaming world, it’s the kind of experience that Xbox LIVE gamers should take note of. There’s really very little else like Butterfly available in the Windows Phone 7 catalogue, or via the Xbox LIVE Arcade service for that matter, and that’s not due to a limited market as much as it is an awkward perception: behind Butterfly‘s cheerful exterior lies a wholly enjoyable score-based challenge, and one that perfectly compliments it’s host format.