TRINE 2

[youtube id=”59wsCXe5k9M” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Trine 2

Trine brought with it some fun platforming and cool puzzles, with local only co-op. Developer Frozenbyte added online co-op with Trine 2. Does that make the sequel better than the original? Read our review to find out.

Our three heroes, Amadeus the Wizard, Zoya the Thief, and Pontius the Warrior, have returned. Their world is now being taken over by strange plants and goblins. They are once again united by the artifact known as the Trine and it is up to them to save their world. The story is told through text and narrative and can be a little hard to follow at first. This doesn’t really affect the actual game play and doesn’t take anything away from the game.

trine2_gameplay

The gameplay is a mix of platforming and puzzles, in side scroller style. If you are playing solo, you’ll be able to switch between all three characters. Each one has their own special abilities and that adds to the intricacies of most of the puzzles. The characters’ abilities are upgraded through experience points that you’ll earn as you play along. Once you’ve spent these points, they aren’t locked in. You can reset them and apply them to other needed abilities for any of the characters. This is a nice little feature that comes in handy early in the game while you are still trying to earn more points. Points are earned by grabbing orbs that can be found all over the place in each level.

trine2_gameplay

The puzzles can be a little mind boggling if you don’t look at them through the eyes of each character collectively. Using the brute power of the Warrior can open up paths that only the Thief can get across. The Wizard is great for reaching higher places, but the grappling hook of the Thief might still be needed to get to those hard to reach places.

All three characters start out with little in the way of abilities, but this changes as you spend those experience points. The Wizard can earn the ability to create more boxes and planks out of thin air, as well as levitate objects and  goblins. The Thief will be given more powerful arrows which can freeze or explode enemies. The Warrior’s hammer becomes an actual throwable weapon, with auto retrieval. His shield becomes stronger and can freeze goblins, which can then be shattered into a bunch of goblin pieces.

trine2_gameplay

The original Trine used a mana bar, which limited you with the amount of magic you could use at any given time. Trine 2 does away with that and you can use your abilities without any restrictions. This is definitely an improvement and makes the game a little more user friendly.

The game can be played completely offline solo or with local co-op, but playing online with two other players is where this game really shines. Puzzles are a little easier as long as everyone knows their part. You can play with the three separate characters, or play Unlimited where as you can all play as any of the three. Having three Warriors in battle at one time will make any pack of goblins a mere speed bump along your journey. Having three powerful Wizards can also make life easier when you work together building things with your blocks and planks.

trine2_gameplay

The graphics for the game are some of the best looking graphics for a downloadable title to date. The level details and landscapes are crafted to make the game strikingly beautiful. Puzzle and level design give you the sense that much thought was given to their creation. Some puzzles can be solved in different ways, and it is the level of detail that adds to this design. A few glitches here and there may force you to restart a checkpoint or two, but it’s not a game breaker to say the least.

The sounds of the game vary from very relaxing, to up-tempo depending on the level. The rise and fall of the tempo matches the game play. The sound track is already available on iTunes and has some great scores. Ari Pulkkinen, the man behind the music, has created a great collection of music for this game.

trine2_gameplay

Trine 2 is hard to categorize as a single genre of game, and that adds to its overall appeal. Platforming, while not always perfect, is fun and entertaining. The puzzles can be quite intricate, but tend to be a little too easy once you start thinking using the collective mind of the three characters. The RPG elements are thin, but do give the title a nice RPG feel to it. Battling goblins and various enemies can get a little repetitive, but that doesn’t take away from the overall fun the game offers. Online co-op sets this game apart from the original, and definitely makes this game an upgrade.

Trine 2 is a beautifully crafted game, with a great soundtrack and intricately detailed levels. With it’s low price tag, and hours of game play, it is well worth its price.

Tetris 2

Tetris 2 Super nintendo

Tetris 2

The success of the original Tetris prompted the creation of a lot of clones, sequels, and spin-offs. Despite all of those, this was the “real” sequel to Tetris.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike Tetris, 2 seems to have dropped all the Russian influence from the game. The setting appears to be more like a childhood room in a Japanese house.
Tetris 2 Super nintendo
Unlike some other Tetris variants, this one plays differently enough from the original but you can tell it has the same basic formula. Instead of clearing all blocks, you must also take care of the little bomb blocks as well. Once they’re cleared, the round is over, and you proceed.
 Tetris 2 Super nintendo
There’s also a decent puzzle mode added for those want a real challenge. Despite all that, it’s not going to rival the original to almost any player. It’s a decent puzzle game, and I could see people back then having their fair share of fun with it. On the other hand I can why nobody has really tried to re-release the game since the 90’s.

Score: 7 out of 10

Splash Lake

splash-lake-

Splash Lake

The idea of a bouncing Ostrich with a very sharp beak named Ozzie was enough for me to at least take a look at this game. Splash Lake was released by NEC in 1992 for the Turbo Grafx-16. This puzzle game features an Ostrich named Ozzie who uses his sharp beak to break holes in the bridge he is on causing his enemies to fall, into the lake, where they splash, hence, Splash Lake.

splash-lake-

Check out our few video review with commentary.

Chew-Man-Fu

Chew Man Fu

Perhaps it is the Japanese equivalent to the Ham-burglar.

Chew Man Fu

 

In Chew Man Fu your mission is to stop this hungry little man from stealing all the worlds’ fried rice and egg rolls. The game plays sort of like Pengo and you have to take out the enemies by firing the balls you place on each of the 500 stages. Developed by Now Productions and published by Hudson Soft and NEC in 1990 you can also find this game on the Wii’s virtual console.

Buster Bros

buster bros

This week’s Turbo Views video features the 1989 game Buster Bros. In this game two brothers must go around the world destroying balloons that are terrorizing cities and landmarks (I never heard of balloon terrorists).  There are 17 locations in the game from Mt. Fuji to New York and over 50 stages of gameplay. The game was originally released to the arcades and then ported to several consoles systems and you can play one and two player games.

Weird Games: Katamari Damacy

katamari_damacy-ps2-gameplay-screenshot

Forget the big bang theory or intelligent design, the world was made by rolling a big ball of junk together and creating stars. Well, at least that is how the cosmos is recreated after it is destroyed. Katamari Damacy is a mix between a puzzle game and an action game as you play a prince who has to collect various fallen parts to recreate the cosmos your father, King of All Cosmos destroyed.

katamari_damacy-ps2-gameplay-screenshot

How did the moons and stars get destroyed? By binge drinking of course. After this event you have to roll around a magical ball called a Katamari that collection objects that will allow you to create a star once it becomes large enough. The game was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004 and was created as a result of a school project affiliated with Namco.

katamari_damacy-ps2-gameplay-screenshot

Along with the main story there is a side story about a family whose father is an astronaut and as a result of the drunken destruction of the King is unable to go to the moon. Meanwhile his daughter can sense that the prince is trying to recreate the cosmos, but in the end they all get rolled up in the Katamari to make the moon. What a twist!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciKPiw6Sc50[/youtube]

The gameplay is simple, but can get frustrating. The idea is to collect items smaller than the ball, but there are larger objects that can hit the ball knocking off your collected items and slowing your progress. The goal is to collect enough items to grow your ball large enough and turn it into a star. There are secrets to be found in the game as well as a two player mode that has you fighting to see who can collect enough objects first. The game also features a great soundtrack, so as weird as it might be it is worth checking out.

Pengo

 

Pengo Cover

I probably should have liked this game more than I did. Pengo is an overhead maze-puzzler, and I generally love these games. The ability to use my brains (for once) in a video game, add a little action, sprinkle in some cutesy characters and music, normally would equal “retro arcade goodness”. But, here’s why Pengo didn’t really do it for me:

Pengo Cover
Sega put out Pengo, a cute red penquin, in 1982. I remember this being rather popular, but for whatever reason didn’t give it much of a look. Set in a maze of ice-blocks, the goal is to kill all of these blob-like creatures, called Sno-Bees…even though they could have just used bees, I guess…or called them “Sno-blobs”…not really getting this. Anyway, you push-slide the blocks around, which will shatter when they hit something…preferably a blob. After you kill one (there will be 3 on-screen), another will hatch from an ice block and you’ll continue smashing them until they stop hatching, usually around 8-10. When the level first starts, the blocks from which the blobs hatch will briefly “flash”, allowing you to destroy those blocks, if you wish, before they hatch, making it easier to finish the level…..in theory.

Pengo Gameplay screenshot
Here’s my problem: The blobs don’t move like the slow-asses I’ve seen in the movies. Matter of fact, it seems like they’re actually faster than me. They melt-through my ice-block weapons on the way to me, and I can’t tell you how many times I was waiting behind a block to shove and they started melting it before I had a chance to use it. I was literally spending all my time running for my life, and just tossing ice randomly. I haven’t panicked this much in a game since the first night of Left 4 Dead. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have “mastered” the game, but holy shit, it was tough for me. The controls just seemed a bit off, which added to the frustration.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hdDKxfrAbs[/youtube]
There are a lot of ways to gain points in the game; obviously killing blobs, but also there are 3 diamond blocks on every level. These are indestructable and make for a good weapon, but if you’re able to line the three up, you’ll receive bonus points. Again, I don’t know how you’d ever have time for this…good luck. Also, the quicker you finish a level, the more bonus you receive…capping off with 5000 points if you do it under 20 SECONDS!!!! Christ….
I do love the animation and music, and I’m sure this is a well-loved classic…..but I don’t.

Overall 5/10

Tidalis

There really isn’t much to say here. Give the Tidalis demo a go and you’ll immediately know whether this little indie puzzler is for you. Simple as that, really. I simply don’t feel I have to actually provide you with a review of the thing. Wait! Here’s the link you’ll be needing.

Tidalis - Gameplay Screenshot

After all, were I to review Tidalis, I’d just let you know that it’s a puzzle game with obvious arcade elements that requires both a quick mind and quick reflexes. I’d also probably mention that it plays like an inspired cross between Tetris, Columns and those laser reflection games of yore, while sporting some decent chip-tunes, a slick, polished but not spectacular presentation (despite them beautiful backgrounds), excellent controls, and a ton of available options. Oh, and I’d probably mention Tidalis features a frantic multiplayer mode, a weird co-op thingy and an impressive amount of single-player options that actually -drastically too- change its very nature.

Tidalis - Gameplay Screenshot

As for the fact that it comes with a built-in editor (editors to be precise, as Tidalis does indeed let you create anything you’d think will improve or change it enough for your, err, creation to be properly interesting), well, I guess I might mention it, provided I weren’t too tired of mentioning all the little features the thing comes packed with.

Tidalis - Gameplay Screenshot

What matters and would have mattered most would be one thing though; my verdict. Here it is then: Tidalis is an excellent and very polished action-puzzler, that impressively lets you decide how to play it, and you really should play it! You’ll probably be too addicted to do anything else -or review it- for quite some time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L28SWHTgqM[/youtube]

Better yet, let me rephrase this: TIDALIS IS AMAZING. BRILLIANT TOO. Oh, and it’s available for Windows and OS X via a lot of online outlets including Steam, D2D and its very own and pretty official website.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot

Angry Birds (2010)
By: Rovio  Genre: Puzzle  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Android  First Day Score: 108,400 (single stage best)
Also Available For: PC (forthcoming), iPhone/iPod, Symbian

You know, the progress of mobile communication technology really has been remarkable. After many years of refusal to conform, I finally had to yield and buy my first mobile phone, and even to this day I’m only on my third phone. I had no intention of ever using any of them to play videogames and, were it not for a quirk of fate, I’d still be using my second phone and continuing to not play games on it! Through much of this time, however, I had been watching, with a certain degree of envy, admittedly, the evolution of the iPhone as a legitimate gaming platform, yet no single game tempted me enough to take the plunge. Until this one.

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot

Actually that’s not true. I still don’t own an iPhone, despite trying to get one almost purely to play this. I knew from the first moment I saw a shot of this that I wanted to play it, so I found it frustrating that I was apparently unable to. Then, with the aforementioned quirk of fate, my phone was broken. Since it was too old to be fixed or replaced, I was instead given a state-of-the-art (for about five minutes) Android phone for which I found out Angry Birds was due for release. Hooray! Even better, when I was finally able to download it, it was free! This in itself made me very happy, but after all this waiting, was the game actually any good, or had I built it up so much for myself that I was in for a disappointment?
Like most puzzle games, the concept behind Angry Birds is a simple one which doesn’t really need a detailed backstory. Suffice to say, some evil (and for some reason, green) pigs have stolen the eggs belonging to a group of birds. This has understandably made the birds angry who have decided to channel their anger into a direct assault on the pigs who have barricaded themselves in and around various strongholds. It is then your job to launch the birds at the pigs using a large slingshot with the eventual aim of defeating them and reclaiming the treasured eggs. This is achieved either by direct contact, or by causing nearby structures to collapse onto them. Those pesky pigs have built some elaborate defenses though, so it won’t be easy!

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot
According to the walkthough on the Rovio website, the game consists of five ‘themes’ each comprising of twenty-one levels, but there have been other sets of levels made available to download so the exact number is hard to say, but it’s a lot! Each one features a pig, or pigs, on the right of the level and your slingshot and quota of birds on the left, and there’s usually various obstacles between the two. The structures the pigs are usually protected by are made of glass, wood, or stone, each of which is obviously progressively harder to break through, and are more often than not made of strategic combinations of several materials. To break down/through these structures you have six different types of bird at your disposal.

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot
The first bird you’ll use is the red one which is a tough sonuvvabitch but doesn’t really do much beyond collide with whatever you fire it at. Next up is the smaller blue bird which will split into three separate birds in mid-air when you touch the screen. After this helpful fellow you’ll encounter the yellow, and possibly angriest of all the birds. A tap of the screen while he’s in flight will see him increase in speed and plummet kamikaze-style in a straight line, causing greater damage. Next is the heavy black bird who self-destructs in a powerful explosion after he makes contact with any structure. Soon after him you’ll meet the white bird who, with a tap of the screen, will drop an egg bomb. Last but not least is the green bird who can reverse his course in mid-air. Each level gives you a pre-set quota of these birds that you can use to defeat all the pigs on that level, and careful planning is needed to make best use of their abilities.

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot

The pigs have a few tricks up their sleeves too though. The smaller ones barely need a touch to be defeated, but the larger ones are tougher, some of whom are equipped with helmets and armour! Some are so tough you’ll need help to best them. There are often strategically positioned rocks or other objects, for example, which, with a well-placed bird strike, can fall and cause an extensive chain-reaction of destruction. Some levels even have carefully placed boxes of TNT which can be ignited with the strike of either a bird or object of any other kind. The pigs don’t seem to care though, and sit there looking at you, blinking, sometimes grunting, and laughing when your attempts to reach them fail! Completed levels will give you a Star Rating out of three depending on your points, which can be earned for destruction of structures as well as a 10,000 point bonus for any unused birds.

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot
The first thing I noticed about Angry Birds is how slickly presented everything is. You can breeze through all the menu screens and suchlike in a flash, which might not sound like much but it really is a breath of fresh air, with many games these days, mobile or otherwise, having clumsy interfaces and long loading times. Here, if you fluff up a level, two touches of the screen and a similar number of seconds later and you’ll have restarted it! The visual style used here appeals to me a great deal too. Whilst obviously far from the pinnacle of modern technology, it suits the game perfectly and is very easy on the eye. There’s even some amusing cut-scenes! Whilst there’s no in-game music, the sound is also of a decent quality, with many amusing sound effects befitting the style of the game, and several catchy tunes and ditties on the various screens between levels. All the flashy front-ends in the world can’t disguise a sucky game, but luckily Angry Birds is anything but that.

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot
The best games on a platform as limited as a mobile phone are ones creatively programmed to make the best use of its unique features, and it’s here that Angry Birds excels. The game was created originally for the iPhone but, since Android devices use near-enough identical technology, it works just as well here. The touch-screen controls are simple and precise and I don’t think it’s possible for the game to work any better. The physics are spot-on too, with partial destruction of some structures leaving the remains teetering and swaying, sometimes taking thirty seconds or more to finally collapse. This is one of those games that you can play for five minutes but often end up playing for hours on end, constantly adjusting your birds trajectory until you get exactly the shot (and ensuing destruction) you want! Even if you manage to finish all the levels on offer, there’s still the challenge of achieving a three star rating for each of them. Angry Birds is such a simple concept but it’s supremely playable and unbelievably addictive. I guess I’m a bit of a sucker for these silly games – I was exactly the same with LocoRoco for the PSP – but everyone should at least give this one a try. Android owners don’t even need to pay for the privilege. Ready. Aim. Fire!

Angry Birds - Mobile Games - Gameplay Screenshot -

RKS Score: 9/10

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNNzRyd1xz0[/youtube]

Retro King Simon is a 36 year old guy from England, and likes lots of stuff, including retro videogames, movies, and anime. You can check out his blog here – Red Parsley.

Dr. Mario

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Dr. Mario

In 1990, the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System had hit fever pitch, with Nintendo’s franchise flagship character Mario becoming one of the most recognizable and iconic figures in world culture, thanks to his astounding success in a series of platform adventure games

It was with an element of risk, then, that Nintendo pursued the idea of using Mario as the mascot for a puzzle game, following the achievement of Tetris, the now-legendary Russian implant. Thus the Dr. Mario title was borne, featuring the plucky plumber enduring a change of career as he donned a doctor’s uniform and was faced with the task of clearing nasty viruses by heaping colored pills onto them, with matching hues resulting in cleared elements.

Would the mustached hero strike storied lore yet again with a puzzler?

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Gameplay

Much like Tetris, the vertically oriented field of play takes on one block at a time, each pill-like piece entering when the previous is used. These pills come in six different types, representing the possible combinations between three different colors (including double-color, solid-colored pills). Making a connection of three like-colored pill portions in a row cleared those parts, including any like-colored viruses touching them.

Ergo, each level consisted of the goal of clearing all the viruses in the field, with more challenging levels adding viruses at the beginning to forcing the pills to fall faster. The cartridge also featured a two-player mode where two players could simultaneously compete against the other, after choosing a level to begin at (higher-numbered choices representing more viruses to begin with), then racing to clear their field. In the meantime, you could even send viral bits randomly falling onto your opponent’s field and potentially disrupting their efforts.

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Graphics

Although there is definitely a primary-color emphasis, Dr. Mario still comes off as a delightfully colorful game that truly attains a uniquely different feel and mood from Tetris. Whereas Tetris feels like a carefully calculated game of chess complete with classical compositions, Dr. Mario is more like a frenetic spinning dance-game of whirling, twirling color patterns and medical maladies. The animation of the good doctor Mario tossing each pill into the bottle in one-player mode is a nice touch. Otherwise, the graphics themselves are not entirely spectacular, but mustered fine enough for a puzzle genre entry.

Sound

The effects are fairly standard,

but the background tracks are classics. The player is faced with the choice of choosing the background music before a round, much like Tetris, but with fun names like Chill and Fever. Each “song” has a very distinctive personality, and are earworm-worthy in their capacity to stick in your head hours later. The composer was spot-on with this one.

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Creativity & Innovation

According to Wikipedia, Nintendo actually received a patent for Dr. Mario and its then-revolutionary style of color-coded puzzle-clearing. Back then, the concept of tying colors so intently into puzzle play was an innovative concept. Nowadays it may seem head-scratchingly simple, but this is truly a title for which you have to appreciate its genius in context. For a puzzle game, it was a refreshing new character on the scene; within the greater gaming pantheon though, it was a minor advance.

Dr. Mario actually spawned a sequel, Dr. Mario 64, which was largely the same, except for one important, super-fun addition: Four-player gaming. For this inclusion alone it is worth mentioning, but all Dr. Mario games aside, the original NES release still stands as somewhat of a classic, and a giant in the history of puzzle gaming. For its competent mix of historical significance and genuinely fun times, Dr. Mario prescribes three and a half stars out of five.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ziH6tVJwEU[/youtube]

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write  a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Baku Baku Animal

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

Baku Baku Animal (1996)
By: Sega Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn First Day Score: 17,250
Also Available For: Arcade, Game Gear, Master System, PC

After the unprecedented success of Tetris, a good few companies jumped on the ‘falling block’ puzzle game genre, and one of the biggest offenders was Sega. After buying the rights to Columns, it soon snapped up Puyo Puyo too. None of these addictive games, however, was to appear on their new Saturn console, so instead Sega came up with their own game, and quite an original one it was too! The King (of somewhere) is apparently looking to hire a zookeeper to look after the animal-mad Princesses pets! The game is basically a test at a job interview. If you win, you’ll get offered the job! Like the games before it, the action takes place on a single screen, in this case divided vertically down the middle. Player one controls the action on the left side of the screen, and player two or a computer-controlled opponent controls the right. As is usually the case with games like this, the concept behind the gameplay is a simple one. Sets of two blocks drift down the screen, one after another. Pictured on each single block is either a food or an animal. All you have to do is match the food with the animal that eats it!

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

There are five different animals in the game and each will eat only his favourite food when he lands on some (monkeys eat bananas, mice eat cheese, etc), but since food blocks appear more often than the animal ones it’s best to group foods together as much as possible. This is the best way to play the game as chain reactions can occur this way resulting in not only larger scores for you, but will also see a load of random blocks dumped on your opponent’s side of the screen! This will obviously not only screw up their attempts to do the same to you, but will also push them closer to the top of the screen which results in game over. The longer the game goes on for, the faster the blocks will fall down the screen. Occasionally, a pair of coins called ‘BB Coins’ will appear in place of a food/animal block. These will make any blocks they touch, and any other blocks of the same type on that player’s play field disappear.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot


There are two play modes to choose from in Baku Baku (plus a secret third one) – Arcade and Ranking modes. Arcade mode is the same as the arcade version as you might imagine. Here, you will challenge a series of opponents until you get to challenge the Princess. Beat her and win the game! Arcade mode is also where the two-player action is to be found. The ranking mode is for one player only, and is more or less the same as the arcade mode except your opponents carry on forever. Beat as many as you can and then receive a ranking for your playing skills such as number of attacks, number of chain reactions, and the least amount of time elapsed. Also featured is a hall of fame and a movie viewer, both accessible from the options screen where it is also possible to alter the difficulty level and increase or reduce the number of different animal types.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

As with most puzzle games of this nature, its simplicity means the technical strain on the host system is kept to a minimum. It’s a nice, colourful, happy looking game though, and features a decent rendered intro detailing the story. The animals themselves are particularly amusing when they grow bigger to eat the foods! The music and sound effects are also suitably happy and upbeat (there’s even a ‘bangin’ dance remix hidden on the disc), and that’s pretty much the case throughout the game. You know what you’re getting with games like this and, whilst there are no real surprises and the one-player mode won’t last you long, this is still one of the best games of its type. Everything about it is top quality and it’s a lot of fun, especially when challenging a friend. A novel and amusing take on the much-copied falling block game and one well-worthy of your time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GMzVGK0V5Y[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Game Gallery: Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

One of my reasons for doing this is because, when I first started writing game reviews I found it really difficult to find decent quality screenshots, and half the ones I did find were tagged, which infuriates me. So, I started grabbing my own screenshots and, unlike so many other selfish tossers on the net, anyone is welcome to take my screenshots and use them for whatever they like. It would be nice if I could get a namecheck or something in return, but if not, no problem!

AardbloxX

[youtube id=”hUC1IIam_BI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

The game itself does challenge your brain so if you think this is just something you pick up and beat in a few moments, think again. ~J.A. Laraque

AardbloxX

Independent games may be the last place to find true innovation and people who really care about gameplay over dollars. I was lucky enough to try out an interesting puzzle game called, AardBloxX. Now the name might have thrown me, but the game challenged the hell out of me. Perhaps my puzzle gaming skills are lacking and if I was a lesser man I would give this game low scores because I could not do as well as I thought I should.

AardbloxX Gameplay Screenshot

AardBloxx is a 3D puzzle game that has a Tetris feel to it. The game itself does challenge your brain so if you think this is just something you pick up and beat in a few moments, think again. On the main screen, you are looking down from an overhead position at a square room or field. You receive one block at a time, which comes in various shapes and the goal is to align them correctly. However, this sounds easier than it is.

AardbloxX Gameplay Screenshot

First, this is overhead so for those use to Tetris or Puzzle Fighter type games getting use to the overhead view takes so getting used to. Honestly, you really need to be a puzzle game lover or you might get frustrated, but if you like puzzle games this is a great challenge mainly because of the 3D aspect.

While the game does show you what block is coming next and there is a 3D render of the field so you can see what you are doing, it does not mean you can easily plan your next move. The blocks you receive are random and as the game progresses the speed of which they fall will increase. What is great about this game is it does improve your spatial awareness and once you get the hang of the game it is fun and addictive.

AardbloxX Gameplay Screenshot

The game has some good music that goes along with the experience and features a two-player mode. If you really think you have mastered the game you can switch to the advance mode and you can even tweak the gameplay to your liking.

Overall AardBloxX is a fun and challenging puzzle game that will keep puzzle fans entertained for quite some time. You can purchase the game on X-Box Live for 80 Microsoft Points or try it out first with the trial edition.

Penguin Land

Penguin Land - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Penguin Land (1987)
By: Sega Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Master System First Day Score: 9,450
Also Available For: Sega SG-1000

Back in the late 80’s when my beloved Master System was my console of choice, I was rarely able to add to my game collection. I had around 8 games, mostly considered classics nowadays and highly rated back then. As I spent time looking through the magazines of the day, there were, however, always a few games that I wanted but was never able to get my hands on. Penguin Land was among these. Despite the unspectacular scores it generally received in the magazines, I found myself taken by the premise and screenshots and decided that I had to have it! This was, I suspect, mainly due to my fondness for platform/puzzle games, but it wasn’t until many years later – around 10 in fact – that I finally got round to buying it. Was it worth the wait?

Penguin Land - Gameplay Screenshot 2

As you may have guessed from its name, Penguin Land features… a penguin! He is no ordinary penguin, however – he’s a space penguin called Overbite, Penguin Mission Commander, who has rather carelessly lost three eggs on a distant, icy planet. After flying to retrieve them, he has to push them back to his spaceship and safety. This must be done over the course of 50 vertically scrolling rounds through which you must push the egg carefully without breaking it, from the top of the stage to the bottom. Of course, it’s not that simple, for there are various hazards awaiting you and your egg, not least of which is a time limit. Polar bears, rising and falling section of rock walls, birds that drop bricks on your egg if you don’t move it for a while, and ghosts which mess up your controls are also out to hinder your progress as much as possible too!

Penguin Land - Gameplay Screenshot 3

Luckily, with his eggs trapped on apparently such a hostile planet, Overbite is free to walk and jump around the rounds to his hearts content. A vast majority of the blocks are blue ice blocks. Overbite can break the ice blocks beneath him by pecking them and the egg can then be pushed through the gap. Be careful though – the egg can’t fall more than three blocks downwards without breaking, so you’ll have to take some time to consider which blocks to break. There are also cracked blocks which break as soon as the egg touches them, stone blocks which can’t be broken, and tubes which Overbite or his egg can drop through. Also sprinkled liberally around the stages (increasingly as you progress through them) are rocks, which can be pushed around much like your egg, and can also be pushed off platforms onto polar bears below!

Penguin Land - Gameplay Screenshot 4

Like most platform / puzzle games, Penguin Land is a simple concept, yet fiendishly addictive to play. The graphics, whilst pretty repetitive (only the background colour changes really) are neat, appealing, and suit the game style well. There is some slight sprite flicker if too much occupies one line, but it’s rare. There aren’t many tunes in the game though. A few little ditties and just the one main game theme. It’s a jolly, catchy number, but may soon grate, especially if you dislike this kind of tune to start with! Sounds effects are minimal but decent enough. As is often the case with games like this, though, it’s the gameplay that makes all the difference. It’s easy to start playing but hard to master, and with 50 challenging rounds to play through, it will last a fair old while! You can choose any of the first 30 rounds from the title screen and there’s even a level editor with which you can create additional rounds and save them on the cartridge’s battery back-up.

Penguin Land - Gameplay Screenshot 5

After waiting so long to play this game, I won’t say I was bowled over by it when I finally did get to play it. To be fair, it was probably an unspectacular release, even when it came out, but it has proven to be a highly playable and addictive little puzzler that not many people seem to know about. If you like platform games that require a bit of thought and planning, give this charming game a try!

RKS Score: 7/10

Marble Madness

Marble Madness - Title Screen

Marble Madness (1991)
By: Atari / Electronic Arts Genre: Platform / Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega MegaDrive / Genesis
Also Available For: Arcade, Master System, NES, GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, PC, Amiga, Atari ST, C64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple IIGS

Originally released in the world’s arcades in 1984, Marble Madness was another cracker from the then red-hot Atari. At least, that’s what you’d be forgiven for thinking, given the game’s popularity. In truth, it was a competent enough arcade game for its time, but somewhat less suitable as 16-bit console release seven years later. Marble Madness, you see, is a very simple game – you control a marble which you have to guide to the end of the level or ‘goal’ within a strict time limit. Achieve this and you’ll get to tackle the next level. Each level is viewed from a 3D isometric perspective and is set on a series of raised platform sections. The surface of these levels is far from even though – it leans at all manner of angles, and ramps, chutes, bridges, and other such things also adorn the landscape and must be traversed in order to succeed.

Marble Madness - Gameplay Screenshot 1

Many obstacles and hazards also hinder your progress. Chief among these are the Steelies – evil black marbles which will try to bump you off the side of the level at every opportunity they get. You can bump them back and even off the side of level, but it all costs you time. Other enemies include Marble Munchers, Hoovers, Acid Slime, Terrordactyls, Hammers and Pistons, all of which cost you precious seconds. If your marble falls off the side of a level, takes too high a drop, or falls victim to one of the traps, you’ll lose it. You have an infinite number of marbles but losing marbles costs time, so it’s best not to make a habit of it! Very helpful in certain situations is the turbo button. This will cause your marble to travel faster and is often the difference between a crushed marble and a victorious marble, but you’ll also run the risk of whizzing straight off the edge!

Marble Madness - Gameplay Screenshot 2

And that’s about it! As I said, it’s a simple game. The problem here is that this conversion is pretty much identical to the arcade version. “But that’s a good thing!” I hear you cry. Usually, yes, but no effort has been made here to improve on the arcade game – something that was more than possible in light of the MegaDrive’s 16-bit mega-power. Initially, Marble Madness is good fun, though somewhat frustrating, but you’ll probably just be getting into it only to find – it’s over! That’s right – Marble Madness has a mere six levels. This was just about passable for an arcade game, but a home console game? I don’t know about you but I demand more for my £40! What there is of the game plays nicely enough though, and the graphics, whilst hardly pushing the MegaDrive to its limits (you would have a tough time telling this version apart from the Master System version!), are decent enough. As is the case with many isometrically viewed games, the landscape is covered in a grid-like pattern and looks neat and tidy and organised and everything. Each level is fairly colourful but there’s nothing much else of note.

Marble Madness - Gameplay Screenshot 3

Possibly the most horririfying thing about this game is the ‘music’. Examples featured herein range from poor right down to ghastly I’m afraid. Some of it can barely be considered music! The only reprieve is on level two which features a fairly reasonable tune, although it is looped and frequently repeated. Sound effects aren’t much better either. I don’t usually like to criticise someone’s hard work too much unless it’s obvious that they’ve put in no effort, but this one will have you reaching for the volume button pretty quickly. At least there is both music AND effects though I suppose! Regarding the gameplay – as I mentioned earlier, what there is of it is decent enough – ball movement is satisfactory and the levels, though frustrating on occasion, are pretty well designed for the most part but, as mentioned, there’s only six levels in this game. Six! It’s not as if they’re long ones either – I’ve completed this game in less than ten minutes, and it can be done in less than five! To think that some Playstation-licking casual gamers complain when a game can be completed in a ‘mere’ ten hours! The existence of a simultaneous two-player mode here livens up proceedings a little, and can be fun for a short while, particularly if the two players decide to try and take each other out, but that’s really the only reason to play this more than once.

Marble Madness - Gameplay Screenshot 4

So there you have it. A legend, right or wrong, which was an enjoyable five-minute diversion in the arcades, but as a MegaDrive game it just isn’t enough. If there was, say, 30 or 40-odd levels on offer here, this would be a pretty good game, maybe even a great one, but a six-level game that can be seen in its entirety in five minutes is unacceptable. A good idea, but there’s just not enough to Marble Madness, unfortunately.

RKS Score: 4/10

Bust a Move 2

Bust A Move 2 - Playstation Box

There were a lot of new finds to choose the retro game of the week pick but Bust a Move 2 took the cake this time around. Not only is this game addictive, but it also has a real good soundtrack. The difficulty is there as well as you’ll be failing a lot of times going against the machine before you are successful. Of course, if you are already familiar with these series then you shouldn’t have any problem mastering it quick but do yourself a favor and play the game in expert for a truer experience. The game cover art is just blah, probably Americanized due to the audience and what not, but what does a dude with little toothpicks in his eyes has to do with the game? Not sure, and also what is this about saying “so addictive it should be illegal” That can’t help raise sales you know. What if a parent went ahead and was checking out different titles for their kids and saw the cover and read that? The parent would probably never pick it up unless he/she didn’t give a shit about what the cover says.

Bust A Move 2 - Gameplay Screenshot

Furthermore, the game is just amazing from beginning to end. The player vs player mode also makes things real fun and it’s a great choice for multiplayer gaming sessions. The game tends to get easy to difficult at certain levels. For example, you will have no problem beating levels one and two but once you get to level three, the cunt you go up against with is tough! This little bitch will beat you to the ground if you don’t come up with a strategy. After level three, you’ll have a lot more easier rivals until you finally reach the tougher stages in the game.

So that should be it for this pick, the game is fun and makes you come back for more but it’s not so addictive it should be illegal. Games like these are a little hard to come by so get ready to spend some cash(around 10-20 dollars) but not much to make you go broke.

Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Title Screen

Puzzle Bobble (a.k.a. Bust-A-Move) (1994)
By: Taito Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 190,900
Also Available For: PlayStation, 3DO, SNK Neo Geo, Neo Geo Pocket, SNES, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, Sega Game Gear, PC, Bandai WonderSwan… also featured on various compilations and download services

I think it’s safe to say that Bubble Bobble has stood the test of time well and is rightly regarded as an all-time classic. It’s also safe to say that it has perhaps remained Taito’s most popular series. There have been numerous conversions of the games to home systems, particularly Bubble Bobble itself, and some of these conversions have appeared on newer systems in just the last few years. There have also been a number of ‘updates’ or ‘remixes’ of these famous games such as the Evolution/Revolution games on the PSP and DS. It’s odd though, that there had been no all-new, original games from Taito starring their most beloved of characters until Puzzle Bobble appeared. In spite of the fact that the second and third games in the original platform-based series (Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars) feature Bub and Bob as their real human selves, is it their appearance as dragons in the original that most gamers most fondly remember. It is fitting then, that the latest game to feature Bob and Bob returns them to that popular guise.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 1

As you’ve probably guessed from its title, Puzzle Bobble is a puzzle game. It draws its influence from Columns and its ilk but it’s far more that a mere clone of Sega’s classic colour matching game. It is played on a single screen which, when play begins, is occupied by many bubbles of differing colours. They hang from the top of the screen and descend in various patterns depending on the stage. At the bottom of the screen is Bub (the green dinosaur). He is in control of a bubble-firing contraption of some sort which is located in a fixed position at the bottom of each stage alongside Bub and can be rotated left and right in a circular motion through 180 degrees. The object of the game, you see, is to clear the screen of bubbles.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 2

This is where the main Columns influence comes into play. You are given mere seconds to fire each bubble from your bubble-firing device (otherwise it’ll fire automatically) and their colours are random, though you do get the advantage of a ‘next’ indicator. Each time you fire a bubble into two or more of the same colour, they’ll pop. If you manage to pop some bubbles that have others of different colours hanging from them, the stray bubbles will fall off the screen (they need something to hold onto, after all). This is called ‘dropping’ bubbles. The more bubbles you can ‘drop’ in one go, the higher your score will be. All the while that this is going on, the ceiling of the level is gradually descending too, which obviously pushes the bubbles closer and closer to the bottom of the screen (which can induce a Space Invaders style panic!). If any bubble(s) fall below the level of your bubble launcher (this limit is called the ‘deadline’) then it’ll be game over.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 3

In the ultra-popular two-player mode, the screen in divided vertically down the middle. Bub occupies the left-hand screen and Bob occupies the right, and both players have control of their own bubble-firing devices. Each time you clear a reasonable quantity of bubbles in one go, your opponent’s playfield will be liberally sprinkled with random bubbles. The more you clear, the more they will receive! If a player clears all of his or her bubbles first they are the winner. If a player’s bubbles dip below the ‘deadline’ first they are the loser. Pretty standard stuff really, but who cares when it’s so much fun! And let’s face it –  it’s the two-player mode that most gamers will play almost exclusively anyway!

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 4

The one-player mode is pretty easy, comprising of 30 rounds, but it’s still great fun and relaxing to play. It initially appears to be one of those games that any old monkey could be good at, but it does have its testing moments with some screens crammed full of bubbles in no discernible pattern! Some others, however, can be cleared with a single well-aimed shot, and bouncing the bubbles off the side walls of the stage is an extremely useful art to learn. The first stage you play of each new credit will see your bubble launcher equipped with what basically amounts to a laser-sight, which shows the trajectory the bubble will take. This is particularly useful for rebounding shots and is a good training feature. Puzzle Bobble can get rather repetitive for one player though, but it’s also pretty damn addictive too.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 5

Being a single-screen puzzle game, I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that Puzzle Bobble is hardly a jaw-dropper, graphically speaking. As I often say, however, it doesn’t need to be either. Bub and Bob remain as charming as ever and the screen is usually very colourful thanks to the many bubbles that fill it. When they pop, they explode in twinkly flashes of colour and some of them even contain enemies from the original Bubble Bobble! The background and playfield-surrounding areas change in appearance every three levels and are mostly different coloured patterns. The background on rounds twenty-five to twenty-seven is different though – it features several star constellations and scrolls vertically, increasing in speed the longer you play for! Sound-wise, the game is pretty much as you would expect from Taito. There’s not many tunes but those that are here are typically catchy, happy tunes, and the sound effects are great.

Puzzle Bobble - Bust A Move - Gameplay Screenshot 6

One thing Puzzle Bobble is renowned for is having been converted to nearly every home system to ever exist in one guise or another. It’s certainly simple enough to be played on nearly anything (even a mobile phone) and yet remains supremely playable in nearly every instance! You’ll probably get bored of the one-player mode pretty quickly (although it is still addictive) but when you’ve got a friend around, you could do a lot worse than give this a go! Its sequels made a few improvements but the core gameplay has remained unchanged since this original. There’s good reason for this, however – its quick, simple fun, end of story.


RKS Score: 7/10

Angry Birds review

Angry Birds title screen

The great thing about mobile and even flash gaming is that you can bring a dynamic that may not work in the console and PC world. Though there have been many successful puzzle games for console and computer systems, some of the most played have found their birthplace in the mobile world. One such game is Angry Birds, a game that has swept across the mobile gaming world with fun gameplay, level design and even music and sound effects that has captured the hearts of even the most hardcore gamer. You would be hard-pressed to find someone with an advanced mobile device that does not have this game on it.

The Breakdown

Angry Birds was published by Chilingo and developed by Rovio , a game maker out of Finland. The game in a nutshell is to fire different types of birds at pigs who surround themselves in various structures. It is almost a play on the three little pigs in that the pigs barricade themselves in structures made of wood, concrete, glass and other materials.

A group of pigs have stolen un-hatched eggs from the birds making them angry. The theft of the eggs begins a war between the birds and pigs. Each level has the pig’s setup in various positions with items such as wood planks, concrete beams, tnt and glass. Your task is to fire the birds via slingshot to take out all the pigs on the level. Sometimes the pigs are in the open and by hitting them directly with the bird takes them out. Other times the pigs are hidden beneath various objects and you need to either break through to hit them or cause the structure to collapse onto them. When you take out all of the pigs you advance to the next level.

Angry Birds bomb
Angry Birds bomb

Level Design

For the most part there is only one screen for each level of Angry Birds. What this means is you can view the entire playing field at once. However, to do this you have to zoom out in order to see the full screen, otherwise you begin from the left hand side with a view of the slingshot and the birds allotted to you for the specific stage.

The slingshot always stays the same, but the amount and type of birds you are given access to changes. The levels are made in a way that you can take out all the pigs without using all of your birds, but that takes planning, some skill and a bit of luck. Since the configuration of the structures the pigs surround or hide themselves in changes each level you need to know what type of bird to use and where to hit each part of the structure for maximum effect.

The Cast

Angry Birds is the war of birds versus pigs and there are different types of each. For the most part the pigs are the same as there are only a few size differences and what they might be wearing, but everything comes into play when deciding how to best take them out.

The Pigs

  • Small Pig – The small pig is your basic grunt, it is taken out pretty easily and does not get to wear any accessories. You can hit these directly for an instant kill or having almost anything fall on it will take it out, the same goes for it falling even a small distance.
  • Large Pig – The larger pig can take a bit of damage from a falling structure and is reflected by the appearance of black eyes.  However, a direct hit from any bird will take it out and a fall from most distances will kill it. The large pig can wear a helmet that gives it further protection from falling debris, but it does not really protect it from a direct hit from a bird or a fall.
  • Mustache and King Pigs – These pigs are pretty much like the large pigs except they may be a little more resistant to damage from a short fall or smaller debris.

The Birds

  • Red Bird – The red bird is your standard and starting bird, it is average against most structures, but is mainly for either knocking something over or a direct hit on a pig.
  • Blue Bird – The blue bird breaks into three small birds once you launch it and hit the button. These birds are great against glass.
  • Yellow Bird – The yellow bird has a speed burst if you hit the button after launch. These birds are great for wood.
  • White Bird – These drop one single bomb egg when you hit the button after launch. These birds themselves do little, but the egg bombs can destroy structures or take out pigs.
  • Black Bird – These overstuffed birds explode once launched and you hit the button or once they come in contact with any object they explode in a few seconds. These birds are pretty strong against anything, but they are really good against concrete.

Additional Birds

  • Boomerang Bird – Yes, it does what it sounds like it would do. This bird can curve once launched to come back and hit those hard to reach places.
  • Fat Bird – The fat version of the red bird, think wrecking ball.
Angry Birds bomb
Angry Birds bomb

The Strategy

When you start out each level you have a predetermined amount of birds and they will vary per level. So you may start out with three red birds, but there are six pigs to take out. You also get to use the birds in a specific order so you can’t pick the black bird first as an example. Keeping this in mind helps you plan for the best way to take out the pigs and the structures around them.

The slingshot is pretty simple. If you have ever used one as a kid the principle is the same. If not the idea is a rubber band around a curved tuning forked shaped stick. The more you pull back on the band the farther the object will fly. You can also adjust the band to fire the bird high or low and to create launching angles and bombing trajectories.

Sometimes the best way to think of each level is how much slash damage you can do. As an example, if you start with a black bird you might want to explode it in a place causing the most debris to fall that can not only fall on the pigs but cause the pigs themselves to fall over and die. However, you must know your enemy. If the pig has a helmet and you bury it under debris and it doesn’t die it can be very hard to get to it with the birds you have left.

Not only do you have to think about taking out the pigs, but there are hidden golden eggs and other things to hit and destroy. You earn points a number of ways.

  • Destroying structures
  • Killing pigs
  • Remaining birds

Sometimes causing a structure to collapse is the best move and other times you may want to cause a chain reaction as in the case of TNT. Sometimes there are boulders or other items that when you detonate the TNT can fly out and take out the structures or the pigs. Other times the pigs may build a structure you can weaken like a train out of glass or a boat of wood. If you take out its support structure you can win the day. The good thing is you can go back to any level once you complete it to earn a higher star rating, so you can go for the quick kill and then come back later to get fancy.

Platforms and Add-ons

Angry birds has five storylines with over 60 levels in each and that is before you add in the holiday add-ons for Halloween and Christmas. You can find Angry Birds on the Apple, Android, Palm and Maemo platforms.

Overall

Angry Birds is fun and addictive and can be frustrating so if you are the type of person prone to fits of anger then take a class before you play this game or you might end up destroying your phone. Personally the best thing about this game for me is seeing a chain reaction you did not expect. Sometimes I would be stumped on a level and then all the pieces would fall in place and I would win. I think that makes the game fun to play again even after you have beaten it.

If you have a phone that supports this game it is worth the price. It is a serious time killer and will make even a 14-hour ER wait bearable.

What is your favorite Puzzle Game?

What is your favorite Puzzle Game?

In the world of gaming where there are thousands of choices, with so many games to play you would think puzzle games would be left out in the cold. The truth is for many people puzzle or mind engaging games are of the best kind. The great thing about a puzzle game is you really can decide how long to play it and it is normally a game you can turn off and on or walk away from in a second if need be.

Puzzle Fighter 2

The real draw for puzzle games today is you can play them everywhere and on anything from your phone to handheld systems to any computer that has flash. When handheld systems hit the stores it was games like Tetris that drew many people to buy them. Many people who you would think would never touch a video game owned a Gameboy primarily for the puzzle games available on that system.

This week on the insider discussion we take a look at some of the more popular puzzle games throughout history and some of our favorite ones.

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo

I’ll start with my favorite. I have always liked Street Fighter and the idea of a puzzle game mixed with a fighting game really got me into it. In SPF2T you can pick from a number of Street Fighters and other Capcom characters to battle each other.

The object is simple enough. Different colored bricks slowly fall from above; with them are different colored orbs. The orbs when attached to a brick of the same color will detonate all of that color that is connected to the bricks. When this happens the amount of bricks you destroy are dropped onto your opponents screen.

Now depending on how many bricks you drop on your opponent your character will perform a fighting move. The more bricks you drop the more powerfully the move will be. There is a lot of strategy to the game and how and when you decide to detonate your bricks can make all the difference.

The visuals, the music and the overall theme and gameplay won me over and Puzzle Fighter is very popular in Japan. This puzzle game is definitely worth a go.

Dr. Mario

A runner up for me just because I really liked the title and the fact that Mario was now a doctor. However, the Tetris-like gameplay did keep me interested. The idea here is inside the medicine bottle are different colored viruses. Slowly, double colored capsules fall and you have to stack and surround the virus with the colored capsule that matches. If you stack four of the same color it will kill the virus. You win if you eliminate all the viruses and you lose if the narrow neck of the bottle is obstructed.

Columns

This is another fun Tetris-like game from Sega where columns of three differently colored jewels would slowly fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. The object was to line up three of the same color either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, if you did this the jewels would shatter and the columns would fall and if you planned it correctly you could create a chain reaction when multiple same colored jewels would line up and then shatter racking in bonus points.

To many to name

There are a ton of great puzzle games out there from the PC, Console and mobile gaming world. We asked our panel of gamer insiders what their favorite puzzle games are.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

My favorite puzzle game of all time is Space Quest 1!

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Well, of course I’m biased toward our own game, MadStone! But other than that, I love Tetris Attack and Meteos. Even now, those games draw me in more than any other form of interactive entertainment. Of course, maybe it’s because they are the only games I am good at!

Juan Gril from JoJu Games wrote:

Currently, the last puzzle game I loved was Auditorium.

Winnie Wong from Monkey Plum Media wrote:

I love puzzle games, they are so memorizing! Some of my favorites are Tetris (PC), Peggle (PC) and Hexic (Xbox) and if it’s referred to as a puzzle game – The Last guy (on PS3), others that require more brain power I love are: BrainAge and Rhythm Heaven (on the DS). Not only are these games addictive, but I love the catchy theme music of Hexic, The Last guy and who wouldn’t love to be cheered on after winning a level with Peggle? (Love rainbows, unicorns and fireworks!)

Games to Buy: Dec 7th 2010

game store
game store

So you survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and somehow you still have a few bucks in your wallet, well good thing this week there are only about three games that make our worthy buy list.

First a little change in the Games to buy format. We will now intertwine both PC and Console games into one which means that when we have a week that has a ton of games for both it will be a harsher cut for the ones we think are worth buying. Remember this is an opinion piece and for the most part we leave sports games out of it because we know you sports fans are going to pick up the latest edition.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

There is tons of information on this game and honestly if you are a World of Warcraft player you are getting this game case closed. The overall story is an ancient evil dragon called Deathwing laid a path of destruction that reshaped the world. What this means for gamers is the old world has changes so the land that you leveled up playing has changed forever. There are a ton of changes to how the character classes work, two new playable races and a ton of new dungeons and loot. Blizzard also have made changes to make gameplay quicker for those of us with little time.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$$

Tron: Evolution

Disney has pulled out all the stops in the sequel to the cult classic Tron and the same has been done with the game. Although some critics have given it a less than likeable score the game does look well put together. You have a mix of the classic Tron including the light cycle races and the action adventure levels where you chase down viruses in the virtual world running and jumping through the visually stunning city. There is also a multiplayer aspect that allows you to compete against up to ten other players. You can play Tron Evolution online or offline.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

Bejeweled 3

Perhaps there isn’t much one can say about a new puzzle game, but the fact is Popcap had and still has a winner with this game. Bejeweled can be found on pretty much anything from the PC to your phone and everywhere in-between. Now you have a brand new game that keeps to the classic gameplay but added cool additions including a 40 mission quest mode that has 11 mini games. There have also been updates to the four game modes found in Bejeweled 2. Finally you get new backgrounds a tweak in the music department an even clearer visuals. All in all if you love puzzle games this is worth a buy at only $20.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

NewU Fitness First Mind Body

So you stumbled upon a Karma Sutra book and convinced your girlfriend to give some of the new positions a try. Unfortunately, both you and she are out of shape and could not even do the beginner positions. I guess it’s back to missionary for you, well maybe not.

Thanks to the Wii, brining you wastes of time since 2006, you can now Yoga your way to the backwards sun pretzel position in just a few short weeks. This hot new program will teach you how to get your mind and body in sync preparing you for long nights of passion. Keggle’s add-on pack not included.

Buy Worthiness:  X

If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

Waiting Room
Waiting Room

Everyone has been through it, at one time or another you have had to wait in a small, cramped and completely boring waiting room. It really doesn’t matter what you were waiting for though waiting for a car repair or doctor’s appointment can be the worse. Let’s face it, you don’t want to read those crappy magazines they have from six months ago and the television channel is showing The View. Back in the day you would have to just tough it out, drink some awful coffee and maybe strike up a conversation, but thanks to portable gaming that has all changed.

Now you can play a ton of games across many platforms from console handhelds to the iPad. Today you are not even stuck playing simple flash games, with systems like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable you can play brand new high graphic games anywhere. So that leads us to this week’s Insider Discussion; If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

For me it would be puzzle games. For some reason I just can’t enjoy games like Tetris and Super Puzzle Fighter at home on my 51 inch HDTV. However, when I am waiting for someone or something to get done I love to break out a good puzzle game and watch the time fly by. You can find so many great puzzle games no matter what platform you play on and once you get into it that hefty repair bill or super long doctor’s needle won’t seem so painful.

Now let’s see what our panel of insiders said:

Mathew Anderson from Petroglyphgames wrote:

“World of Warcraft (or any other similar MMORPG). Why? Because you can easily spend hours in the game on a variety of tasks, many of which can take hours to complete in and of themselves. Or simply chat with others around you. I mean, who wants to talk to real people in a waiting room when you have an entire virtual world to explore, right?! Games within games, “virtual” persons instead of real ones… do those count? :)”

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

If that happened today, it’d be Mirrors Edge – which I’m absolutely loving.

Justin Melendez from Lan Slide PC’s wrote:

A few months ago I was stuck in an airport for about 12 hours during which time I played a fair amount of Starcraft, Aion and Borderlands. Had Starcraft 2 been out I probably would have queued up for some multilayer matches to pass the time.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

Civilization 4 is a good for me, a real time-killer!

Josiah Pisciotta from Chronic Logic wrote:

Right now I would say Civilization IV, nothing makes time fly by like that game.  Plus if the wait turned into days instead of hours not only would I still be playing but I probably wouldn’t even notice 🙂

Corey Dangel from Detonator Games wrote:

Getting stuck in a waiting room for hours happens to me more often than I’d care to admit! Typically I just play a version of Spider Solitaire on my Android. I’m on a quest to break the 4 minute barrier (I’ve only gotta shave off 3 seconds so I know i can do it) so it actually can entertain me for quite some time. But if I was thinking ahead, or had the ability to manifest a game + device out of thin air, I’d play Scribblenauts for the DS. It’s such a creative game with so many ways to enjoy it.

Danny Greig from XGEN Studios wrote:

Street Fighter 2 or Super Mario Kart.  Both can be played for hours on a portable device without getting old. However if a console is an option, the choice would be Super Smash Bros (Any of them).

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I actually found myself in this situation, and it was when Wario: Touched! for the Nintendo DS came out.  It is both very light-hearted which was helpful, and the game sessions were so quick you can pause & put it away at any time.  Plus of course it’s portable.

Grace Snoke from EOGamer wrote:

I love puzzle games and tower games.  Games like Bejeweled, Jewels, Collapse, things like that always eat up my time. I get involved in them and hours disappear because I’m constantly trying to beat my best score.  Or, if all else fails, Plants vs. Zombies, which is a tower game.  Best time waster ever.

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Right now that would have to be Super Mario Galaxy 2. SMG2 is a textbook on excellent game design. Every mission of every level is different, it’s tough but never frustrating, and there are all sorts of surprises from beginning to end.

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)

Bust-A-Move SNES screen
Bust-A-Move SNES screen

Puzzle Bobble review (Bust-A-Move) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“One of the CUTEST and ADDICTING puzzle games ever!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, My History With This Game, Fun Factor, & Replayability:

Damn you, Taito… Puzzle Bobble is just so freaking cute and such a great time eater! I first saw this game when I would go to arcades and it would be the game that girls would hog all the time, especially asian girls.

Puzzle Bobble screenshot
Puzzle Bobble screenshot

The cute little dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble, Bub and Bob, are back in their own little puzzle game. The game consists of the dinos manning a cannon that shoots different bubbles filled with specific enemies, basically colors, from Bubble Bobble. When you make 3 bubbles of one kind of color they pop. If there are any bubbles connected to them that were only being held there by that string then they pop too.

The game not only requires foresight as to what bubbles to blow up on time but skill as well. Only when you die do you get targeting bubbles that help you guide where the shot will land. The rest of the time you have to learn how to accurately fire bubbles and have them be effective. If you screw up by being slightly off you could have potentially ruined the easy way to pop bubbles quickly which is a problem considering every X number of seconds the stage moves down one bubble in length. If the stage reaches the bottom of the stage, you are so very, very dead.

This game not only makes you think quickly but requires you to react quickly as well, especially the further up the levels you get. I think that’s a good blend for some serious fun! This game is sometimes peaceful enough that it can be relaxing but once you get to the later stages it will make you cry as it owns you.

I’ve been playing this game since the mid 90s and I pick it up and put it down at least once a year. I give it a Fun Factor of 8 out of 10 and Replayability a score of 8 out of 10, considering almost 15 years worth of playing it!

I’ve played it a lot on the arcade, DOS, and the SNES version as well. Look below for a full list of all versions.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out rather simple but it gets difficult on some stages quickly. There is no way to alter the difficulty but the game is challenging as it is. If you find it easy just fly through the levels and eventually you will get to a point where your skill is maxed out and then it will get really tested.

Difficulty gets a score of 8 out of 10 since it starts out a bit slow for me but later gets heavy, giving Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move) was released on the 3DO, arcade, Game Boy & Game Boy Advanced & Color, Game Gear, iPhone, mobile phones, N-Gage, Neo Geo & Neo Geo CD & Pocket, Nintendo DS & Gamecube & Wii, PC, Playstation 1 & 2 & PSP, Sega DreamCast, SNES, VG Pocket Caplet, WonderSwan, Xbox & Xbox 360 (XBLA).

Depending on what version you get will determine how much you’ll pay. I’d say this game would easily be worth $20 tops considering it’s age and considering how available it is for emulation on just about everything. Even at $20, it’s totally worth having in your game library. At that price I’d say Value gets a score of 8 out of 10. Anything less or free is worth a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

Just like everything, even the sound is cute in this game. When the level is about to start hearing them say “Ready……. Go!” or the popping sound goes really well with the theme of the game. Sound gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Music:

The music sounds a lot like bubblegum, like j-pop but with a special arcady feel to it. It blends really well with the feel of the game and its repetitiveness makes you keep playing, at times. Even the little jingles when you beat levels are very uplifting happy songs. The music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

No version I’ve ever seen of this game on any platform has ever crashed, not even the DOS version I used to play. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You don’t need many controls to play this game. Mastering the controls is another different matter though. Left moves left, right moves right, and the fire button simply launches the bubble. Again, mastering the exact spot where it will land takes skill, especially in the later stages and that aspect of the game requires aiming like a game of pool would. Controls get a score of 9 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

They made Bub and Bob even cuter than they were in Bubble Bobble and they have very much a very big Kawaii factor. The game is so cute it might make you ill. Graphics are really well drawn and they deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

The game never lags, no matter what version. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

If you love puzzle games and you’ve never played this, you must check it out. If you like Bubble Bobble and want to see the dinos killing stuff with their bubble cannon, you need this. If you like Kawaii stuff and cute games, you need this game badly.

***

You can play this game in the Obsolete Gamer arcade area.