Posts Tagged ‘Puzzle’

Awakening from my container I found myself looking for a way out. However, I realized that I wasn’t alone. There were others. Surprisingly, they all looked just like me. Slightly pudgy body with big green Sam Fisher style goggles that all of a sudden turned red when I was in the light. At this point I began to wonder if I was me, or if I was just another fabricated clone. Well I can’t think too much about that now, because I need to find a way out of the madness. Is there an exit, or is this just another test? Will there be…cake?

Featuring 80 levels of brain melting puzzle madness that tested both my mind, and my patience, Stealth Inc.: A Clone In The Dark, from Curve Studios, charged me with the mission to find a way out. What really jumped into my mind was that while I was playing Stealth Inc. I couldn’t help but compare the game’s similarities to another puzzle masterpiece simply known as Portal.  Let’s do a quick head count shall we. Unknown protagonist, companion cube like moveable blocks, turrets, portal style teleporter pads, and a silent AI antagonist similar to the evil sarcastic style of GLaDOS. Yes, Stealth Inc. has a lot in common with Valve’s juggernaut. However, before I call this game a 2-D Portal clone there is something that separates this indie gem from the mega-hit retail game. Stealth.

Not to be confused with the likes of the Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell series, Stealth Inc. had me working in the shadows of darkness to achieve my goals. Each stage is well lit up, but also features items where I could create shadows so that the cameras couldn’t see me while I was hacking consoles to keep progressing through the levels. The key to safety and success depended all on the color of my goggles. While the goggles are green I was somewhat safe. Once they turned red it became run and hide, because death was imminent especially if there’s a camera around. Getting spotted by these would activate various death traps including lasers or closing walls which would leave me as nothing more than a blood stain on the wall.

Stealth Inc. basically boils down to the type of game where trial and error plays a huge role upon success. Death is a commonality as I found my blood splattered everywhere. While death sucks, and doing it multiple times can lead to frustration, the good news is that I get unlimited lives (hence the term clones) along with a checkpoint with each terminal I hack in to. Death no longer becomes a moment of rage. Instead it becomes a learning experience which will also help in future levels so that I don’t get vaporized by a laser or torn to shreds from a buzzsaw. Along with my successes came unlocked equipment allowing me to retackle levels with a bit of an added advantage including enabling a limited camouflage when I was in the light to summoning extra clones to cause a distraction while achieving my goals.

While Stealth Inc. kept me busy with it’s challenging puzzles, I did eventually stumble upon another unique feature. A level creator. Yes, now I can create my own frustrating puzzles to really challenge my brain as well as my reflexes. Every tool that was in the game is also at my fingertips as I worked my own cleverness and devious mischief into making levels all with the goal of frustrating others. Sadly, I then found out that I can’t share my evil genius with the online community. What the fuck! Are you kidding me? Why did the developers not consider this when games like Little Big Planet and Trials Evolution allow players to share their custom levels with the world? Might I suggest a future patch to make this happen.

Challenging gameplay, mind bending puzzles, and a fun level creator. Stealth Inc. has it all. Replay value is high with stars and ranks to obtain, unlockables to earn, and leaderboards to show skill and superiority. Sure the trial and error style gameplay will have some players throwing their controllers and yelling tons of obscenities at their television screens, but there is still fun to be had as well as the eventual sigh of relief when making it through a tough level. Remember that key word “fun” while constantly dying yet still learning at the same time, because that’s what games are really all about.

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Developer: Curve Studios
Platform: PlayStation 3, PSN
Players: 1
Price: $9.99

GAME STATUS: Defeated Zhaka Mu and discovered the secret of the island.
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 16 out of 20 (320 Gamerscore)

For my original review on Zuma’s Revenge click HERE.

After washing up on a mysterious island it was up to my ball heaving frog to find out it’s dirty secret. After more than 60 levels that ranged from too easy to near frustration it became known to me that my frog was no longer alone. Of course that’s what the island natives told me. Ms. Zuma was my reward! A female companion, or maybe it’s PopCap Games revealing the next Zuma adventure along the lines of Ms. Pac-Man and Ms. Splosion Man. A female frog with balls coming out of her mouth solving color based puzzles. Did that sound right? Oh who cares…moving on.

Zuma’s Revenge was a big step up compared to the original game even though I was doing more of the same. Matching colored balls while avoiding the end of the line. Ok, so it sounds like your typical puzzle game, but Zuma’s Revenge is more involving than just solving a particular puzzle. The game had fun and challenging boss fights, using earned tokens to raise the levels of four different spirit animals, and a few unlockable game modes beyond the original adventure that hooked me in and made me want to keep playing just to see what comes up next.

Unlike most other puzzle games that I have played Zuma’s Revenge had an addiction factor that kept me playing. Factors that included achieving that high score, weekly challenges, and finding a way to get that last token or two on each level for the spirit animals. Of course there’s also the achievements for me to earn as well. No other puzzle game has been able to hook me in better than Zuma’s Revenge and that’s saying something. This addiction goes even further than my Xbox 360, because I also have this game on my iPhone and iPad.

WHAT OTHER SECRETS DOES THIS ISLAND HOLD?

Iron Frog, Boss Rush, Weekly Challenges, and the last four achievements to unlock. There’s still so much to do. It’s pretty obvious that my addiction to Zuma’s Revenge means that this game is staying put. The island has drew me in, and it will take more than finding my female frog companion to unlock all it’s secrets. The fog may have been lifted, but it’s time to venture further into the island. Time to play more Zuma’s Revenge.

Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

Back in 2005, it addicted me. Seven years later, I’m back for more. PopCap Games made a sequel to the addicting puzzle game Zuma, and this time revenge is on their mind. Revenge for what? Addiction? Lost employee production at the workplace? I really don’t know, but what I do know is that our amphibian hero is back, he’s got balls, and he’s not afraid to use them.

Zuma’s Revenge continues once again on the same color ball matching puzzle adventure. Not much has changed except for the scenery. Gone are the tombs and in is the lush jungle scenery of this unique tropical island. Unfortunately, the natives don’t take to kindly to the frog coming to their home, and are plotting a scheme to eat him. Well I can’t let the natives make frog legs out of me so it looks like there is one thing left to do…bring on the puzzles!

Just like the previous game, Zuma’s Revenge plays out as a “match three” puzzle game where I would match at least three balls of one color. Once that is accomplished the balls disappear and I repeat the same action until I cleared each stage. Sounds simple right? Well that’s because it is, however Zuma is a tough game to master. Levels will get much harder leaving very little room for error. Power-ups also come into play featuring score multipliers, bombs, laser beams, tri-shots, and even flow reversal. Each of the power-ups, along with some various chain reaction combos, offer a new sense of strategy as well as helping me finish a level in one piece.

New to Zuma’s Revenge is boss battles which in a way reminds me of the old school classic Space Invaders. All I needed to do is clear the balls in the way of the boss and fire. I like the addition because it really breaks up the monotony of puzzle action. Also new is the addition of Spirit Animals which changes the dynamic of the game in terms of power-ups and other bonuses happening more frequently by earning Spirit Tokens to level them up for even more bonuses. More bonuses lead to higher scores and more tokens to spend.

Zuma’s Revenge is more than just a basic puzzle game. It’s an addiction. Every time I play I work myself into a frenzy just to get that high score or move deeper in the game. Well Popcap added some extra game modes to keep me playing for a log time. Weekly Challenges for scoring, Boss Rush which is pretty self explanatory, and Iron Frog for the hardcore Zuma players. There’s plenty to do here in Zuma’s Revenge to keep me hooked for months and years to come making the 800 Microsoft Point ($10.00) asking price well worth it.

Considering the fact that I have this game on multiple platforms, including the iPad & iPhone, I really seem to enjoy Zuma’s Revenge on Xbox Live Arcade even more. With the multitude of game modes Zuma’s Revenge has, it’s safe to assume that this game will be more than just filler between shooters and racing games. Zuma’s Revenge is hardcore within itself which makes it a game for more than just casual players. Zuma’s Revenge is awesome as well as highly addictive. This means everyone should download this game right now.

Developer: PopCap Games
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)