I’m a gameplay guy. I think that the playing of a game should always trump the graphics. It’s fine if the game looks amazing, but if the game doesn’t play in a fun way that keeps me entertained and challenged, you can keep it (see: Ghostbusters). I’m going to make an exception for Little Wheel. The actual playing of the game is nothing to write home about. You see little glowing circles, you click little glowing circles. Do it in the correct order and you move on to the next screen. But the clicking never gets in the way of my enjoyment of the game. This is much closer to a book or story than it is to a Halo or Super Mario Brothers.
The game takes place in a robot world where the power has been cut for 10,000 years. Your little robot gets hit by lightning, wakes up, and spends the rest of his day trying to repair the problem and wake the other robots in the world. A clever story and exceptional art style blend together to make a great experience, although a remarkably short one. Many screens left me wondering what exactly the robots were doing before they were knocked offline.
I believe that this is what happens when you let talented animators loose in Flash. There’s so much bad Flash in the world that one can quickly become jaded and dismissive of the entire program. But when someone that really knows what he’s doing gets a hold of it, you get something like this. It feels like every single part of the game was carefully considered from a compositional standpoint and the results are really gorgeous. The good (Slovakian) folks over at OneClickDog have really shown an ability to create something striking and simple that kept me interested and even had me wanting more by the end.
The play, as I said, is merely clicking in circles in the proper order. Simple animations show what each button or clickable area can do to help you. The puzzles are all very short. In fact, the whole game is very short, maybe ten or fifteen minutes from start to finish. There are no points to accumulate, no leveling to do, but you never miss it and I never felt like something was lacking from what is actually there. I would have played more and enjoyed it, however.
The art and animation. The story.
What’s less good?
It left me wanting more because it was so short.
So what’s the score?
I’m going to have to go with a 9.75 here. People always say that it’s good to “leave ’em wanting more,” but I think Little Wheel overdoes it a bit. A few more levels would have helped, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed playing every bit of this game and watching what happens as I click through and finish levels. There are a lot worse ways to spend 15 minutes.