Ginger: Beyond the Crystal Review

Perky and bouncy, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is like a time warp to 20 years in the past. The game looks and feels like an N64 platformer, with lots of character and light adventuring between jumping around in a colorful 3D world. I'm not sure if Ginger would have scored a Nintendo seal of quality though. Despite good intentions and cute looks, there are some problems hampering the entertainment the game could offer.

Ginger the cricket's sugary world is all but destroyed in a crystal explosion. It's up to our little hero and his many guises to restore the balance of nature and rescue the hapless population to bring back the peace. The world is divided into three villages acting as central hubs, each having an access to five mini worlds, making a total of 15 areas for Ginger to adventure in.

First Ginger must help the villagers with their simple quests and re-build their destroyed homes with the materials scattered all around. By doing these deeds Ginger earns energy to open portals to mini worlds which range from light platforming to simple adventures. Here, Ginger's many disguises he's rewarded with during his journey come into play as some places require special attributes associated with certain garments. After fulfilling the goals of a mini world, a corrupted red crystal is freed and Ginger must purify it in a separate platforming section. And so it goes, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal becoming an almost pleasant routine that's not exactly tough, but fun. The "almost" comes from some sloppy game design and coding.

Unlike the rest of the world, the mini worlds beyond portals are presented in fixed camera angles. It's often hard to judge the field of depth resulting in some unnecessary mishaps. It's a bit of a shame as these mini worlds are otherwise fun and varied. The platforming parts to purify the red crystals in turn suffer from some bad camera work and controls. When all the platforms rotate and swoop around Ginger, the last thing you want is to constantly fix the view which has a bad habit of resetting itself after every move. When this is combined with unresponsive controls, these sections become harder than they were intended.

The hub worlds are plagued with a strangely flimsy frame rate and multiple hiccups. When you jump and the game takes a half-a-second pause, you're bound to land somewhere else than where you aimed. Visuals are neat and clean but hardly hardware taxing. There's even some fogging to hide the draw distance, something which hasn't been seen since the early days of the sixth generation of consoles. Talk about a time warp indeed!

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal would have needed more playtesting before the release. There are glaring oversights such as no indication whatsoever when the progress is being saved. It's always a gamble where the play resumes after exiting the game. Several technical issues aren't game-breaking but they hurt the flow. As it its, some parts of the game take more perseverance than they should. All the problems bugging Ginger: Beyond the Crystal could be fixed with some serious patching. I really hope the developers rise up to the challenge as there's clearly a fun and chirpy game bubbling under, something a whole family can enjoy together.

Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.