hizang's Bonsai Barber (Wii Shop) review

Who knew cutting a carrots hair could be such fun?


Wiiware is increasingly becoming ever so popular, it's a great concept so its well deserved. You sit at home and flick through the Wii's shop channel and buy some cheap and simple games that are made by a vareity of smaller companies small and big. It's a good place to try out new ideas too, you see in this day and age all new games are just sequals or prequals or share simmilar qualities of others games. Relising a new game type would prove to be too risky and if it flops you'll lose alot of money, and creating a new genre is simply out of the question. But Wiiware is cheap and it dosn't matter so much if the game dosn't sell as many as you would like, so it leaves more room for experimentation. So along comes Bonsai Barber, which not only is it an odd game it creates its own genre, a first person groomer. So will Bonsai Barber get a cut of the action on Wiiware, or will you just erase it's future apointments? (That last bit dosn't make too much sense but hey you try and think or hair cutting puns!)

Yes I will say it again Bonsai Barber is a First Person Groomer, now that sounds quite odd but it is rather simple. You have just openend your own hair salon and instead of cutting humans hair you cut...varoius vegtables hair, I'm not joking. The vegatable comes in all bushy and they tell you what style they want, then you get to the game and all you do is cut as close to the outline as you can. You then get a rating out of 5 and onto the next one.

You have a small but effective range of tools to use. You have the sissors to cut away at the leaves and branchs, the trimmer to cut away the leaves, the specail water to make brances and leaves grow back, a come to style the bend the branchs and a camara to take photos. Ah there are also some paint pots if you wish to change the hair colour. Its a fairly straightforward procedure, you then hit the gong and your done. Don't ask me why its a gong, this game is just that weird.

Using the tools is really easy and your always given handy hints, you twist the remote to get at a better angle to cut more effectivly, and it really is precise and you can cut the tiniest of leaves off and see how close you can get to the outline. Not happy with it, just spray some water over the portion you want to grow back and start again, it is very lenient and you get limitless chances.

You may only cut 5 veg heads hair a day, I suppose this is to stop you getting bored and I think you would. Its a straightforward "rinse and repeat" (Woo thats a good one right there!) There is nothing really to do aside from cutting hair. After a few days you unlock a practice plant where you can cut at your lesuire and do any style you wish. You can book apointments for people and ensure they get there hair cut that day. Or look at medals and post cards you get.

Thats one of the draws of this game, a really nice feature that other games should include. It used the Wii's clock and messege board really well, you get sent postcards to your Wii Message board from your clients that are on holiday. If you miss an apointment you can be sure to get a nasty email from an unhappy customer. Here is one from the carrot...

"You didn't turn up yesterday, dude. I can't waste time waiting around for you like that; I've got places to go, canyons to leap!
Yours disappointedly,
Reg Wedge

It's a nice draw that will keep you coming back to a game, much like animal crossing, and then when you come back you'll see new customers waiting and new styles to try out. As everytime you play you'll unlock new customers and new hair styles. Which is a nice feeling this game has, everything is for somthing, your always unlocking things which is a nice touch.

Its when you've been playing for a week or so that you start to see quite a few rewards for your work, the problem is your never told what to do to get them, you just do things and wallah there you go. This leads to a feeling that it dosn't matter what you do. There's no limit to how long you need to take to finish off a hairstyle, and no apparent punishment for hitting the gong on a mediocre three-star cut. The only impetus to keep striving for five stars is your own pride. With nothing at stake and no firm idea of where it's all leading, it's easy to drift away from the game, especially given its strict "five customers a day" rationingso whats the point of striving for a 5 star rating. If the game dosn't care, why should you?

Getting that 5 star rating is actully quite tough and is why I put it as a hard game, getting 1-4 is a piece of cake, but getting that 5 is near impossible. Its all about the outline and you have to be exactly behind them to get sucsessfull. But as I stated above if you get the same reward for getting 4 stars I think your gonna settle with 4 stars.

The game is full of quirky charm and really looks like nothing else, everything looks to be in 2D and full of blocky colours. Nothing too special just simple. There is no voice acting just varoius grunting from the veggies, the music is not really noticble, its one of those games where the music is just there.

Bonsai Barber isn suprisingly good, its big flaw is that the game dosn't care what you do, you'll still make lots of progress, this shows that it was made for the younger and casuel auidence. Its full of humor though and there really isn't another game like this. Its price point of 1000 Wii points is rather pricing considering you won't play it for that long, but its just too unquie not to play and has some of the best use of the Wii Message board in Wii games. Who knew cutting a carrots hair could be such fun?

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