Lyne Review

Lyne Review

Apr 15, 2014

Lyne is just what the doctor ordered.

The gameplay provides what I would describe as a gentle challenge over increasingly difficult levels. Matching and connecting are the root elements of the game, but even more enjoyable is the puzzle-solving aspect.

This is one of those games that is best explained by actually playing it. The opening helpers are especially brief, but do give an idea of the control set and playing methods. Basically, there are similarly shaped 2D objects (squares, diamonds and triangles) in the grid that comprises the posting area; matching like colors by swipe gestures completes the riddle.

It gets trickier when multiple colors/shapes are in the grid. At this point, the “end” units become more apparent; these are white-dotted pieces that more-or-less start and end the swiping motion, and their are guiding paths to lyne1help frame the allowed movement, and swipes light up the paths. Crisscrossed swipes are not allowed, and the game engine gradually gets more complex to force thought to be applied to solutions.

Soon, light blue octagon “junctions” (as I refer to them) begin to appear. The junctions have jokes in them, and can be helpful in bridging matching shapes, but all the available holes need to be filled for the puzzle to be solved. In this, the junction units bring the game a whole new, engaging angle without overly changing the general gameplay; figuring out how to double back within the rules and get through a junction piece the required number of times can be quite battle.

When a level is complete, the pieces flash bright white, and more levels are opened; levels can be repeated infinitely. this easy pace is yet another enjoyable aspect.

For the easy-going gamer, Lyne is an answered prayer. It’s a lullaby that relaxes without knocking one out, and is able to toe the delicate line of calm and challenging without tipping over into boring and infuriating.

It’s $2.50 on the Play Store.

Move Review

Move Review

Nov 15, 2013

Gotta love Move.

Its main draw is its simplicity. The game developer does a good job of ensuring that it is accessible enough to almost not even need a tutorial.

The basic objective is to move colored, 2D circles to matching squares in the least number of moves. Every level starts out with a suggested number of moves, and not surpassing that is what is the key to earning the most stars.

The base format of a single color and three movable circles best explains the gameplay. The playing area is made up of squares in a 3×3 grid, and there are three light blue circles that can be maneuvered by gestures; touching one and swiping up/down or left/right moves that circle in that direction. The kicker is that when one circle is moved, all move1the circles move in that direction, as if connected by some virtual rope. They all move together unless there is an obstacle square (these are present on the playing grid) blocking one or more circles, it impeded by the borders of the playing area, or blocked by an immovable circle.

In this way, the obstacle squares are very helpful, as they allow a skilled player to use them to manipulate movement of secondary circles. With a bit of finagling, it is possible to work through and get the circles where they need to be. As already noted, each level has a proscribed number of moves, and a maximum allowed. Getting the puzzle solved with the maximum opens up the next level; the game also uses the 3-star reward system; three stars are given for perfect solutions, with less given for using more moves than the suggested number.

The game also offers gameplay in a few different flavors for free; there is the just described 100 leveles of 3 pawns/1 color gameplay, and another hundred that introduces 3 pawns/2 colors and then yet another hundred of 3 pawns /3 colors. The rest of the levels can be unlocked via in-app purchase, and culminate in a 5×5 board with 5 pawns and 5 colors.

At the end of the day, the simplicity that makes it easy to enjoy iy just might hold it back; monotony is a risk. But for a simple time-waster, it’s hard to beat. The clean graphics and smooth animations add to its allure, and it is well worth a look.

Machinarium Review

Machinarium Review

Jul 19, 2012

I want to start off by saying that as soon as I saw Machinarium, I wanted to play it. The way the animation and characters are drawn really caught my eye. After watching the video, I was hooked. I was reminded of the Pixar movie Wall-E .

Machinarium is a brain teaser game that really makes you figure things out right from the start. The game starts with the main character disassembled and dropped into a junk pile. Putting together the robot so the game can continue is a good indication of how the game is. While there are vague hints at what needs to be done to complete the tasks, there is still a lot of thinking involved.

The puzzles in the beginning are simple tasks like putting together the robot, then crossing a ditch using a magnet and a string. As the game progresses, there are machines different machines needing to be set a certain way and the character to be placed in a specific place to solve the puzzle.

Throughout the stages there are tools or objects that are needed to complete the levels. Everything needed to move on is accessible at some point in the level. Sometimes the robot may need to be taller, shorter, have a tool or be in just the right spot to move on, but it is all possible. Think “What Would MacGuyver Do?”; it may help. There isn’t a time limit, so poking at everything on the screen IS an option.

While Machinarium is sure to WOW you with the hand drawn animation, Machinarium is just as surely going to make walking away in frustration seem like a good idea. Stick with it and explore everywhere possible to. Once the level is passed, a weight will be lifted and a sense of accomplishment will be felt.

Monsters Ate My Condo Review

Monsters Ate My Condo Review

Jun 25, 2012

Monsters Ate My Condo is a pretty goofy game from the folks at Adult Swim. For the fans of the late night—and many times very adult—cartoons, this is a game to try. The concept of the game is easy to grasp. There are sections of a high-rise building falling from the sky. As they fall they make a tower. Initially there are a couple of colors, blue and yellow. Much like Bejeweled or other match 3 type games, 3 or more of the same color building sections need to touch to make a combo. To remove a section just takes a swipe of the finger.

As the game moves on, the monsters will come into play. The monsters are colored the same as the sections of the falling bits of building. Feeding the monster the right color makes it happy. Feeding it the wrong color pisses it off and it will attack by throwing a little tantrum. These tantrums shake the ground and the condo building. If the building falls, the game is over.

Not a lot of skill is needed to play Monsters Ate My Condo. It’s just a fun little game to kill some time. I wouldn’t even really call it a brain teaser or puzzle game. The finger dressed like a bad geisha girl giving the tutorial tips and the overly Japanese style of music and retro style monsters with absurd back stories make for an entertaining game.

There aren’t much in the way of settings. Other than the game screen, there are options to meet the monsters and see their creatively-crafted back stories, options to turn the sound on and off, or to repeat the tutorial.

Right now only a couple of the Adult Swim games have moved to Android, most are for the iOS devices. Hopefully more games will be making the leap to the Android OS soon.

Negative Space Review

Negative Space Review

Jan 24, 2012

I was a very early adopter of the Nintendo DS, and one of my favourite games on that system (which I still own) was WarioWare. If you’re not familiar, WarioWare was composed entirely of mini-games. There wasn’t really a story, just little 3-second challenges that were equal parts fun and ridiculous. And my first and enduring reaction to Negative Space is how much it reminds me of WarioWare. That alone made it worth a look to me, but was it enough to keep me playing?

Negative Space is a brain-teasing puzzle game, designed to make you think outside the box, or rather outside the lines. You have two little blobs, one black and one white, and the goal is to get each blog to the flag of its corresponding colour. You do this by drawing lines in either black or white, and thus either push the blobs along, or create paths for them to fall through. White can’t move through white and black can’t move through black, but they can move through each other. It’s a little confusing on paper, which is why the game gives you a few tutorial rounds to get you comfortable.

The game presents challenges in a number of inventive ways. You can be limited in the amount of ink you have. Sometimes you’ll have an abundance of one colour and a lack of the other. Or you can be limited in the number of lines that you draw. It really makes you focus and concentrate to get past each level, and it’s a great brain exerciser.

Negative Space‘s downfall is unfortunately that it is rather a one trick pony. I worked my way through the tutorial levels and by the time I got to the main game I was…kind of bored. The difficulty curve is awfully steep and the game had used up most of my patience before I even got to the levels that count. I think they need to go back in and add a few easier levels at the beginning, to draw people in (pun intended).

Puzzle 2 HD Review

Puzzle 2 HD Review

Jan 6, 2012

Games don’t always need to have clever names to get us to notice them, but it does help. But while Puzzle 2 is very humble in name, but do not let that fool you. It is a puzzle game indeed, and one that you do not want to miss.

You are represented by a yellow block, and your goal is to make your way to the yellow square. Simple enough, until you see the game levels. Single tiles are laid out in paths, which you must navigate by flipping the block end-over-end. Be careful – done tiles are fragile and will crumble away if you land on them end-up. Falling off the board erases all of the progress that you have achieved, and so you must judge your moments careful to prevent it. There are also various obstacles to overcome, or conditions to meet. For example, there are triggers throughout the levels, but their tiles are blocked by lasers. Or perhaps a platform is unreachable until you land on a button that deploys new, connecting tiles. Some conditions can only be met if multiple triggers are performed at the same time. But no matter how impossible a level may seem, there is always a solution. Lasers can be blocked by the green ghost block, and multiple triggers can be done when you use the mirror block (every action taken by the yellow block is mirrored).

But the bigger challenge is personal. Again, every level has a solution, and the elation you feel on completion is quite heady. But you’ll stop short when you see that points are awarded based on how efficiently you completed the puzzle. It’s easy to get obsessed with doing it again, but this time better.

They’ve done some wonderful things with the use of special blocks and obstacles. The art is beautiful, and the lack of any ground or landscape around the game tiles actually creates a sense of almost vertigo, which is very impressive. Each stage is harder than the last, with countless levels to unlock and improve on. There is always a solution to every puzzle, and you’ll eventually get them all.

The changes they need to make (perhaps when there is a Puzzle 3) are to the controls. The blocks rotate in essentially 3 dimensions, and flicking your finger in the desired direction will cause the blocks to roll or fall over. However one wrong mood sends your block flying out into space, and you start again at square one. there are no do-overs, and it is uncomfortably easy to topple your block in the wrong direction. A lot of hard work can go to waste far too easily.

Puzzled Rabbit – Review

What do rabbits have to do with puzzles? Well, normally not much, until Puzzled Rabbit. Puzzled Rabbit is a brain-teaser puzzle-solving game that uses a simple package to bring you some very complex conundrums. The rabbit is a little patchwork (or possible origami) fellow who just wants to move some red blocks into their homes on the game board. It’s not really clear why except that getting the blocks into their proper places will “make the rabbit happy”. I’ll be honest, it makes me happy to do, but it’s less to do with the rabbit and more about the fact that the puzzles are honest to goodness head-scratchers the satisfaction of solving them gives me some real Pavlovian delight.

To solve a puzzle you need to move the red block(s) on the screen into green brackets. You are graded on time it takes to solve, and number of moves taken to complete it. There are some simple physical rules – the rabbit pushes the blocks around one hop at a time with each hop counting as a move, and only he can only push the blocks in one direction at a time. Which means that if you get a block stuck in a corner then there is no way for the rabbit to get it out. But luckily the gamemakers saw fit to give us an Undo Move button, allowing you to retrace your steps back to where you went wrong or to start over completely if necessary. And it’s not all blind guessing, either. Clicking once on a block will show you (in the form of target blue circles radiating outward) what the moves are that you can perform on it. So with some trial and error any puzzle can be solved. But they do offer a challenge and that is what will keep you coming back.

A final treat that the makers added, likely as a nod to its mind-expanding properties, is quotes from well-known big thinkers as the prize for the completion of each stage. For example: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale. They didn’t need to add that little detail, but the fact that they do…well, I love it.

The controls are not difficult to use for me, but could be for others so I can’t say that it has no flaws. And the graphics and music are very simplistic, so it’s not very visually captivating. If you need that sort of thing to keep you invented in a game then you may be disappointed.

Quadratum Review

Quadratum Review

Dec 7, 2011

The first thing I will say about Quadratum is that at first it is very difficult. The second is that I cannot stop playing it. I have already lost at least an hour today alone just trying to hone my skills. This four-player game is simultaneously simple and very complex.

The game space is a field of multi-coloured tiles with arbitrary black tiles creating blockages. There are 7 colours to choose from, and the goal is to expand the territory that you occupy by changing your controlled tile colour to match that of the adjoining tiles and link them up. At each turn you select a new colour to try and connect to those coloured squares. You can only chose a colour that is not currently in use by another player, and so strategy here involves reaching out with your colour choices, but also putting in use a colour that your opponents need to complete their own grab for territory. This further complicate things, the gamemakers have incorporated attack bonuses hidden within the game space. Capturing certain unmarked titles can add a weapon to your arsenal. A few examples of the attacks: shuffle the untaken tile colours on screen; freeze your opponents to give yourself an extra turn; blow up a section of an opponent’s territory, after which the space is filed with a random assortment of tile colours. The attacks are wonderful when you can use them, and maddening when used against you. The tide can turn very quickly when a bomb cuts you off from the wonderful combo that you were building toward. The game is complete when all tiles are captured by the players, and then points are awarded for each tile captured.

The gamemakers themselves call the game addictive. And while that sounds like a brag, I assure you that it is merely fact. Too often while writing this review I would open the game to refer back to some aspect of it…only to find myself playing for 10 minutes at a time. The longer you play the better you get as seeing more moves ahead, and at anticipating what your opponents may try to further their own game. So far I have only played against the in-game AI, but I would actually love to go up against some friends in the tournament mode.

What can I criticism about this game? I think only the fact that I can’t stop playing when I need to be doing just about anything else with my day.