Thursday, 22 May 2014

Puzzle Boy (GB)


Atlus... Sort of explains a few things here


Short one today, as there's little to comment upon.

It's always been an odd idea to me to make a video game that is about the fundamental idea of shoving a box around a room. It lets my mind wander back to what seemed like an odd name at the time but that's because I wasn't aware of the time back in the 1980s of foreign titles being ported over, in particular this one called Sokoban. But I'm not reviewing Sokoban, I'm using it as an early example of what is basically the premise for Puzzle Boy, shove boxes around a room and try not to block yourself in like a prick.

Erm.... Tomato Princess perhaps?
Puzzle Boy follows the Sokoban initiative in the way that it's about some animated fruits and vegetables pushing things around to get everyone in the room (sometimes you've 4 different healthy-but-not-going-to-eat-it-snacks in play) back to base and free of the evil (I assume, I've no real idea as I can't read this) blocks and spinning blocks. There's something of a plot in here somewhere but I'll be damned if I can read this kanji... Is it kanji? I really don't know on this one at all. So let's just look at what we can understanding.

Sadly, no the level did not start this way.
You go from A to be while navigating a maze of levels. You've 30 levels, 10 per difficulty in the main game ranging from "Finished before the intro music is over" to the more simply named "....oooh fuck" levels where you might as well get a degree to work them out as it'd take less time. Or a website of info. Some of the blocks move, some rotate and turn and in some rooms you've got holes in the ground that need to be filled in with moveable blocks to make a walkway towards the exit. In harder levels, you've also got to get multiple people in place and switch between them to solve the puzzles. Though having said that, I do love the music, there's just something on quintessentially catchy and lively about it that I can't help but tap toes and hum along while making up some "la la la"s and "de de dee"s in a poor attempt of lyrical mastery .

Push, shove, turn. Walk to the steps for more pain.
Alternatively, you can take on the quick fire puzzles which are smaller, faster (usually) sets of puzzles in a sort of time-trial session where you can race for a better time or quit in frustration when you see a 5x5 puzzle that might as well be the first code to Fort Knox as you've an easier chance to break into THAT than getting through this game in one piece. Or you know, play something else. The music is a little more lively for this mode.

These blocks turn and rotate, but I've taken 21 seconds already and 9 levels next.
On top of that, for those that have a) a friend nearby and b) a friend nearby that ALSO has this game, there's the link up mode challenge where two players compete in the aforementioned speed challenge to try and beat a series of levels before the other player does. The only additional difference, is that you can see how far they are on a progression bar but otherwise there's little point in wondering where everything is as you'll either beat them in speed or they beat you, there's nothing that otherwise influences gameplay. Unlike, for example, Tetris where you can attack each other with bonus lines etc.

Hint: Push the large block downwards
Having said all that, the control system is fairly simple, quite responsive and if anything goes wrong it's because you either didn't pay attention or because you lack the ability to plan ahead some 50 moves in 2D geometrical identities. The frustration of this game is two-fold in that while you've only 30 levels (and can jump to any of them at any time) there are some that are punishingly difficult and some that are just outlandishly fiendish to the point where you'll wonder if the designers could do the puzzles themselves or did they do some form of deal with a demonic deity.

Think carefully, you could get to the end before your brain looks for something fun instead.
While there is no long time investment in this game due to it only having 30 levels and a short lifespan of the challenge/vs. modes, it's worth taking a look at. For about 5 minutes, you'll know by then everything you need to know and by that point, it's likely to be too damn much as it is.