Archives for : Puzzle Games

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES Review

8 bit Fanatics creates platforming pain in Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES. I say this in the best of ways. 1000 SPIKES is retro gaming in a great way. If you miss those days of playing a game for hours only to still be struggling on the same stage. This game is like that. It starts you with 1000 lives and that isn’t to be nice, it’s because you’ll need them.

This platformer is for the true gamer. You play as Aban Hawkins a guy who looks a lot like Indiana Jones and you are a treasure hunter. The subtitle under the main title is “The Temple of the Dead mourns the living” and I think that says a lot. This game sets out to kill you, a lot. Every stage you beat is a testament to your gaming skill. The graphics are that of an old Nintendo game, and it really works to set the mood.

What you’ll find in the 1000 Spikes are a whole lot of traps. Obviously you have the spikes from the ceiling, floor and walls. You have darts that are shot at you. The always expected falling platforms and disintigrating platforms combined with flamethrowers, even fireballs from the lava floor. The game is broken out into worlds or sections as you start on 1-1. Every 5 levels lead to a satisfying 6 stage which is nothing more than grabbing the key to the next set of 5 challenging stages. After you beat a set of levels you will gain back a bunch of lives. 50 after the first set, then 100 after the second set and so on.

If you are easily agitated by a challenge then you might want to run from this game. Otherwise grab your controller, you have three basic moves; Jump, High Jump and shoot. The controls handle well and feel comfortable. Every stage is as much a platformer as a puzzle. Every time you get past one part of the stage you will find another trap lying in wait. You must grab the key on the stage then reach the exit. The game does provide the option to skip stages, but only a limited number of stages can be skipped. I don’t recommend this since each stage is a little harder than the last. So skipping a stage may get you past your current frustration, but takes away that satisfying feeling of accomplishment you get by completing the stage.

The game offers a save and exit or just exit without save feature. I have used this, after getting to a certain point I had to stop playing saved on exit. So you can always come back and if you accomplish nothing exit without saving. Aban Hawkins is a game that really sets out to challenge you, and does so completely in a completely enjoyable way. Yes you will get frustrated, but it stands out against modern games that have a tendency of being easier than its predecessors.

I give this game a 5 out of 5, but leave you with the warning that this is not an easy game and good luck getting to the final boss, even I haven’t gotten there.

Holiday Bonus Review

Grey Alien Games produced Holiday Bonus in 2006 for the PC. Then the following year released it on the Mac. This is their first endeavor into the XBLIG Marketplace with plans to potentially release other games that they have made to the Xbox. For what it’s worth this is definitely a good game to release, even if it was released a few weeks after the holidays were over. For the purpose of this review I used the XBLIG version.

Holiday Bonus is a puzzle game, where the object is to turn all the gray areas of a level non gray. You do this by making the common three matching blocks either horizontally or vertically. When a match is made the match is destroyed and the blocks slide down and new blocks appear at the top of the level. If the match that was destroyed happened to have blocks that were gray those blocks are no longer gray. Once all gray blocks are gone the level is beat.

This unlocks the next level, of which there are many. In the PC and Mac version there are 55 levels and it appears that is the case here as well. You can replay any level you have unlocked. A nice touch is all the levels have a holiday theme. With special blocks like bon-bons that act like bombs to blow up a section of blocks as well as other special blocks that can be used for their effect. The game play is simple to get into and is perfect for jump in and jump out play. Start a level beat it and you can quit the game. Come back later and your ready to start the next level.

This game can be enjoyed by any age and it is a great puzzle game. It is well polished and deserves a trial download. Another thing to note is this game is sold for $9.99 for PC or Mac, while it is only 80 msp on the Xbox. How can you not at least download the trial at this deal? I think its only downside is that with the holiday theme it might feel odd playing it in the summer.

I really liked this game and give it a 4 out of 5.

Mazeoto Review

Mazeoto is an FPS Maze game by new developer 10K31. I liked this game despite some of its flaws. Do you miss those days of dungeon crawling for 20 minutes only to find out you went the wrong way somewhere along the line and now have to go back to a different turn off? I know I do. These days games have gotten so easy that you never get lost or turned around. With graphics getting so good in games you have plenty of ways to identify your way, it’s lost that feel of where did I go wrong?

Mazeoto has awesome preset mazes. In story mode there are 4 levels of 3 mazes each, for a total of 12 mazes to wind your way through. You can also play these mazes by levels by just picking the levels you want to play from the main menu. If you are wanting more mazes there is also a random maze option on the main menu. Giving you endless maze wandering fun. To aid you along, you can bring up a map of the level to work your way through. I chose not to use this as much as possible. You also have a radar that shows you a very small grid on your hud of the walls around you and whats on the other side as well. Like any good maze once you put your pencil down and start making your way through it leaves a trail behind you showing every mistaken path you’ve taken. On the map it shades the path you have taken so you can see how many wrong turns you have made.

Mazeoto’s FPS elements aren’t the greatest, but they aren’t all bad. There are sentry style enemies that just lie in wait for you to come then start shooting at you. There are also enemies that wait till they see you then begin chase. Lastly there are a couple that will hunt you down through the maze. These can be the most annoying of them all, but are a definite need in the game.

There is only one weapon in the game, but if you play the story it makes sense why. If you were an experiment by aliens would you as the aliens give the experiment more than one weapon? I wouldn’t and the gun you get is good enough for anything you’ll come across. Also for a little more help in the game there are health circles that will give you back some health, as well as blue teleporters that will take you to other parts of the maze. When looking at the maze you can see where all these things are, as well as the enemies, just not what type of enemy. Which is good for people who aren’t good at fps’s or mazes.

Now as a reviewer, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t tell you the downsides of the game. So here they are but note I talked with the developer and told him my concerns and he seemed receptive to a probable update to the game to fix some of these issues. Here they are so that if you get this game which I would, especially if you love mazes. The downsides are only in the FPS element, but I can see it upsetting some. Anyways on with it right. There are too many heals on a level which makes it feel like the enemies are not nearly as threatening even if you do get lost. The enemies damage is not great enough or varied enough. They all seem to do very little damage even when you are just letting them chase you. I told him my concerns about this and I hope we do see an update to the enemies damage and less heal spots to add to the challenge. I think that would make FPS fans happy and make the game as a whole sit well in both genres.

I look forward to his next venture into game development. I will be giving 3 ratings in this indie review because of its dual genre mix and a final overall rating.

As a maze/puzzle game I give this a 5 of 5, it is just great in my opinion.
As a FPS game I currently give it a 3 out of 5 if this is what your looking for play the trial first.

Overall I give the game a 4 out of 5 a really good game that with one update could be a great game in both genres.

Return All Robots! Review

Space Whale Studios brewed up an interesting game in their lab, Return All Robots. This game is a puzzle game with a plot, I always like those a little better than your standard puzzle after puzzle. Especially if the plot is good, whether it be serious or humorous. This game goes with humorous.

I will say the plot is funny and goofy and if I worked at the company the character you play does, I think I would just have to kill the intern trainee. Although pretty much everyone at the company your character starts to work for just seems to be horrible. So catastrophe strikes and of coarse they send the intern to clean up the mess. That is you.

Your job is to make sure all the friendly little blue robots are saved from each puzzle. You do this with a remote that cause all robots good or bad to head towards your direction. The stages are each puzzles that require you to maneuver the good robots through without them touching the bad robots or any destructive trap/terrain. The game play is very easy to figure out, but it gets very hard to figure out some of these puzzles. The story keeps you moving though. I know it made me want to see the end.

Games with stories are just a nice touch, gives you a sense of importance in the game. Well you get that here, although your co-workers make not always make you feel that way. Don’t you just love big business. Anyway you do get a few other items in the labs to assist you in the puzzles, or in some cases make them impossible to complete.

You can always restart the current puzzle and if you think you can best your previous time on a puzzle go back in and do it. Every puzzle you complete shows your time and calls it took to complete. So you can always just do it again, to beat your previous time or just to play a puzzle you liked again. Another nice  little feature is that even after you finish the games story there are some advanced difficulty puzzles that become available. So you still have more you can do.

All in all for a unique puzzle game with some descent music I had fun and can see myself playing a few of the puzzles again just to lower that time that can sometimes look really bad.

I give this game a 4 out of 5 so go download the trial now, you’ll probably be buying it 7 minutes later.

Puzzwords Review

Are you bored with Scrabble or Tetris?  Well Bwoot GamesPuzzwords is an Xbox Indie game with a nice change of pace. You have the falling blocks with letters instead of shapes or gems that you get in other games and one simple goal make words of 3 letters or more. Now that you have an idea as to what we are looking at with this game so lets get down to the details.

In the single player modes you have the nice feature of any word you build whether intended or not, you get a definition of the word. I thought this was brilliant in Scrabble on the Xbox it tells it you it is a word before you place them. A nice feature but you only learn it’s a word not how to use it. Puzzwords does it better, when a word is formed you get the definitions of the word on the side. It has an excellent dictionary picking up pretty much most words you may try. It has Arcade mode where you have a set number of blocks per level that will drop and a score you need to reach to move on to the next level. A timed mode that is pretty much self explanatory and a marathon mode which is just go until you either fill the screen or quit.

In the multiplayer modes you have a number of optional goals. Sadly no marathon mode in multiplayer mode. That isn’t so bad though, you have many multiplayer modes. You can play for points, or first to make a word a set number of times, or the first to make a number of words of a certain length (3,4, or 5). You lose the definitions on the side to make room for the second player locally. Now online, I was unable to get a game going but it does have the good option of showing you how many people are online playing the game. So when the number is high open a match and wait. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Now on to the disappointing aspects. First the music is so slow paced and the colors of the game are pastel and together it really just has no pop visually. I quickly started to get bored. So it is good for short runs of play, but it does have good replay value and if you have a lover of word games in the house, they will love this.

I give this a 4 out of 5