Twisted Arrows Review

Twisted Arrows Review

Jul 21, 2011

Logic games have been around forever. There hasn’t been a computer released in the last thirty years that didn’t have a brain-teasing, head-scratching, rage-inducing logic puzzler built for it, probably created by some evil masochist who hates all human life and wants it to suffer. That’s what Twisted Arrows wants to be, but unfortunately it falls just short.

The premise is simple. You have to move a ball from one point of the screen to another, using the tiles that have been laid out in front of you. Each of these tiles has a number of arrows on them, showing you the ways you can travel once you’ve landed on them. The twist is that when you land on one of those tiles, it’s going to spin round.

All of the tiles are different colors, and those colors represent the number of degrees they’ll spin once you land on them. It’s sometimes hard to keep track of which tile does what, and the game could really do with an always on-screen list that tells you, especially when one wrong move will lead to an untimely death and the single most annoying sound effect ever committed to code.

The thing you’ll notice whilst you play through Twisted Arrows is that, after the first few simple levels, it throws you straight into the deep end and expects you to be able to swim. Logic is often abandoned in favour of trial, error, and expletives, as you try and navigate an enormous maze of twisting tiles and hellish combinations.

It’s a shame, because the idea behind the game is impressive and interesting. What’s lacking is a smooth difficulty curve and a consistency between the mechanic and the player. With better designed levels, Twisted Arrows would be an excellent game, as it is, it’s a bit too confusing to earnestly recommend.

Spinballs Special Edition Review

Spinballs Special Edition Review

Jun 15, 2011

Puzzle games work because they’re deceptively simple. Look at Tetris, the granddaddy of them all. All you’re doing is guiding blocks into a space, but it doesn’t take long for the game to turn into a fiendish and cruel mistress, goading you for daring to think that an L shaped one would ever fit down there. That difficulty sneaks up on you, which is what gets you hooked.

Spinballs is similar in structure, if not style, to those puzzling greats of the past. It doesn’t try to bamboozle you with complex controls or a mind numbing story, nor does it set its puzzles in the bleak expanses of space. It just tells you to spin balls. Clever title, then.

As with a lot of puzzle games, your task in Spinballs is match three balls of the same colour. To do this, you spin a number of on-screen dials left or right. There are seven dials in total, each of them with six coloured balls attached. Once three or more balls are matched, they disappear, to be replaced by other balls. Burst the requisite numbers of balls and you move on to the next level.

To make things ever so slightly more complicated and modern, there are icons in the four corners of the screen. If you burst the balls that are adjacent to these icons, they gradually “fill up”. Once an icon is full, you can use the power associated with it. One of them shuffles the balls around, and another slows down the time bar, for example.

There are two game modes, Classic and Zen. Classic is a more frantic affair, with a ticking timer limiting how long you have to burst the balls, whereas Zen, as you might expect, is a little more sedate, getting rid of the timer altogether.

Spinballs won’t be to everyone’s taste, and there are times when the touch screen controls aren’t quite as accurate as they should be. The lack of different modes is also a bit of a concern – with only two on offer the game does appear a bit lacking in the content department.

These are small complaints, though. Spinballs is a fun and diverting puzzler, maybe not up there with the best of them, but certainly tugging on their coattails. It’s easy to pick up and difficult to master, exactly the formula that, with a few tweaks here and there, could propel it to greatness.