Polymer Review

Polymer Review

Apr 21, 2014

We see the graphics; we can enjoy the sounds, the action and the concepts across gaming genres. We love to see how different game engines perform across different pieces of hardware. At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done and the fingers are resting and devices are at rest charging, there is just one thing I think ALL gamers want.

Choice.

The choice to relax. The choice to rock it. The choice to pause all willy nilly and come back, ot to hunker down and rack up points non-stop for 12 hours. The choice, to, well, choose.

Games like Polymer do choice quite well.

On he surface, it is a simple, 2D matching game, with a bunch — and I do mean a bunch — of differently colored pol1seemingly polymorphic shapes, each in their own row of squares. Each row and column can be pulled or slid as one unit, much like can be done on a rubik cube. Each shape/piece has at least matching end denoted by a black dot; when black dots from different pieces are aligned by maneuvering, both shapes take on the same color and become homogeneous. When all black dots are joined in a particular shape, the shape can be “popped” for points. Bigger poppable shapes lead to bigger points. Thus, a little bit of strategy can be used to match and score points.

The strength of the game, as noted, is the number of options available. The game can be played in different modes: endless, which is gentle and undemanding. There is the bomb mode, which rewards speedy point garnering. Two minute is a fast paced with a time limit, and one polymer looks to allow players make the biggest continuous piece possible. Some of the modes are restricted, and can be unlocked by accumulated points or real cash.

All in all, its a spiffy game that packs a lot beneath its flamboyant exterior.

Division Cell Review

Division Cell Review

Dec 31, 2013

Division Cell (from Hyperspace Yard) is the game that was created to cater to the OCD segment that exists in all of us.

Three modes exist: Puzzle Mode, Time Attack and Endless Mode. The general gameplay revolves around restoring “harmony” to a disparate set of shapes. Evenness is a concept that is rewarded, and to do this, taps are used. It’s all about shapes, and making otherwise unequal shapes as symmetrical as possible. The shapes start with basic quadrilaterals and there are dots that signify the ability to shift borders one step in a given direction. Using said taps as the primary method of manipulation, the goal is to adjust the shapes till all are equal.

Tapping to slide up, down and sideways adjusts the shapes in real time, and the puzzle is solved when all shapes are equal. Per strategy, time to solve is measured, so it is important to make the requisite moves in as little time as div1possible to score maximum points. As the game goes on, different shapes come into play, and so do the solving shapes; there are triangles, trapezoids and even circles with portioned segments. For all these, making segments and/or shapes even is the key. The gameplay is leveled, and each level in Puzzle Mode can be re-done for bragging rights. Most levels depend on the preceding one to be solved to be accessible.

In Time Attack, the leveled gameplay gets the additional anchor of a countdown timer, and the idea is to solve as many puzzles as possible in the allotted time. Of course, high scores are recorded. Endless mode provides, well, endless fun. This was my favorite… no clocks and varying difficulty.

The game features a colorful background palette, as well as a soft but poppy soundtrack to play against. The visual contrasts are good, and help make the game much easier to engage with.

When it’s all said and done, this game proves that “innovation and “simple” can coexist.

In harmony, of course.

KickStarter Spotlight: Shapes

KickStarter Spotlight: Shapes

Jul 18, 2012

Last week we wrote about Ouya, which has quickly shattered the KickStarter record garnering just over $5 million with still 21 days to go. Already we are starting to see games and apps that are listing Ouya as a supported device. One of the first that I saw was Shapes, a simple game that was developed by a few college students who admitted to borrowing laptops just to aid with programming. Being a college student myself, I found it appropriate to bring Shapes to light above other apps on KickStarter, because that is what KickStarter is for at its core; helping those who need the money to fund their ideas the most.

Shapes is a game that combines Tetris with a touch of Galaga. One out of a group of 5 different shapes are under user control and they are only permitted to come in contact with similar shapes. After these shapes touch, that main piece changes to another random shape and the game goes on. Included in this chaos are a standard supply of power-ups that aren’t all helpful. Most of the customary ones are here like slo-mo, shield, and a seeker, but mixed in are traps such as bombs and speed increaser.

The premise for Shapes may be simple but I think the big deal about this project is that it is one of the first projects that has acknowledged the inevitable coming of Ouya. Simple games have showed a long history of being, almost inexplicably, popular and addicting. So why not try to grab a seat on a brand new and sizzling hot piece of tech? If Doodle Jump can become a worldwide phenomenon then there is no reason that I can see that would stop Shapes from breaking out, especially because it will also be offered on Android and iOS.

So let’s help out these college kids; their asking price is a very modest $1,000. The biggest challenge Ouya has is quality content and adding new and fresh games like Shapes is just what the doctor ordered.

Color Link Review

Color Link Review

Jul 22, 2011

Every once in a while, it’d be nice to see a puzzle game that isn’t grid-based, doesn’t have lots of brightly coloured blocks in it and doesn’t reward you for connecting blocks of the same colour. That’s the dream, but until then we’re going to have to keep playing games like Color Link.

Don’t get me wrong, Color Link is a good game, and it offers an interesting spin on a style of game that we’ve all been playing for a good long while. It’s just a shame that the game hasn’t tried to do anything different visually. The game mechanics would have worked equally as well in a monochrome swirl as they do in a multicoloured grid.

Those mechanics are simple. The on-screen blocks, as well as being different colors, also have different shapes emblazoned on their faces. You can swap any block with any other block that has a corresponding symbol, regardless of their colour. There are also blocks that explode, blocks without symbols and blocks without colours thrown into the mix.

Like I said, Color Link isn’t a bad game, but it does occasionally get trapped beneath its own ambitions. Early on in the game you feel like you’re having too many new things thrown at you at once, and they’re never particularly well-explained either.

There are some great ideas on show here, and Silly Cube, the team behind the game, clearly have a lot of talent when it comes to puzzle design and coding. What’s needed though, is a lighter touch, a slightly subtler approach to revealing the different parts and processes of the game.

Color Link is certainly worth a look. It adds a new twist to a genre that’s getting stale fast, and whilst it may look like every other puzzle game out there, it certainly doesn’t play like them. If you can get over the problems, you’ll find a rewarding and entertaining experience. And if Silly Cube can pin down their formula, their next game should be pretty impressive.

Hexxagon Review

Hexxagon Review

Jul 18, 2011

Shapes are quite often a spectacular source of gaming fun. Where would we be without triangles, squares, oblongs and other space sealing two dimensional objects? Nothing would make sense, we’d be left flailing around in the dark, the simple pleasures of gaming stripped cruelly away from us. The latest shape set to rock our worlds, albeit this time for the second time round, is the hexagon. Or rather, the Hexxagon. Even though that’s not actually a thing.

Hexxagon is an Android re-envisioning of the old PC classic. A mixture of puzzle and board game, it’s sort of draughts meets bejewelled, with a splash of strategy thrown in for good measure. The aim of the game is to cover a grid in hexagonal tiles of your colour.

You can move one tile each round, either by jumping it two spaces, or sliding it into an empty, adjacent space to make a new tile. Any counters of the opposing colour that are adjacent to your piece when it stops moving are converted to your colour. The game ends when you or your opponent are in such a position that the other has no chance of turning the game back into their favour.

There are plenty of differently shaped grids to play through, and the AI whilst not rampnatly intelligent is certainly smart enough to put up a decent fight. The game is a little bit old fashioned in its presentation, with outdated menus and a graphical style which, whilst not offensive, could do with a bit of spit and polish.

Hexxagon is a fun and interesting puzzle game that offers something a little bit different to the usual connect-three model that’s so popular at the moment. It requires a bit more thought and a bit less action, but that’s no bad thing. Sometimes the oldies are the best, and this is a fine example of a retro-remake done right.

Doodle Fit Review

Doodle Fit Review

Jun 29, 2011

You know when you’re at school, and you’re learning about numbers and shapes and angles, and you’re sat there thinking, what good will this ever do me? Well, the good it will do you is that it’ll make you much better at games like Doodle Fit. And it might help if you want to be an architect, I suppose.

Doodle Fit is a pretty-looking game that tasks you with moving a selection of shapes around so they fit into another shape. That’s about it really, Doodle Fit is one of those high concept games that tells you exactly what it’s about in its title. Here are some doodled shapes, fit them into this space.

There are a plethora of other “fitting” games on the Android Market, but Doodle Fit at least tries to do something a bit different with the way it looks, all scratchy lines and hand-drawn blocks. It works as well, giving Doodle Fit a niche appearance of its very own. The controls too work better than most – the block you’re moving hovers a centimeter above where your finger presses on the screen, meaning your view is never obscured.

These little touches compliment the complexity of the game. Whilst it starts off simply enough, the difficulty level ramps up and quite soon you’ll find yourself scratching your head, holding your phone at different angles and swearing profusely at little L-shaped blocks.

Sometimes the scratchy visuals can annoy the eyes, especially after long periods of play, and the earlier levels especially are a little bit on the easy side, but Doodle Fit still manages to be a charming puzzle game, eschewing the current swathe of games that are testing reactions as well as brain powers.

Doodle Fit is a solid game, a perfect antidote to some of the more action-y games on the Market. It’s strange how much enjoyment can be found in the relatively simple act of placing shapes in the correct position. For your sake though, I really hope you paid attention at school, because things can get tough in the busy world of shape fitting, and I’d hate for you to get left behind.