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Honeycomb Beat (DS) artwork

Honeycomb Beat (DS) review

"The game’s real beauty is that it has something for any puzzle game aficionado. If you like to take your time and think things through, the ‘Puzzle’ mode is that perfect blend of frustration and addiction that will keep you locked in its icy, wicked grasp for a very long while. Meanwhile, ten stages of varying speed give ‘Evolution’ mode some definite longevity."

Honeycomb Beat came out of nowhere. One day I was walking around, completely oblivious to its existence, then less than a week later I was sitting in a boat in Newport, Oregon and playing the game while outside seagulls bemoaned the lack of fish carcasses. It was a sudden turn of events, and also pretty cool. Of course, Honeycomb Beat is no slacker in that department, either.

Like the lackluster introduction you just suffered through, the premise behind Honeycomb Beat is unimpressive. You basically just tap two-sided hexagonal tiles to turn them over while not particularly impressive tunes thump in the background from the tinny speakers of your DS handheld. As one tile turns at your behest, so too do its adjacent fellows. Each side of each tile is one of two colors, and your goal is to set things up so that a row--or in the case of one mode, every present piece of the current surface--is the same color. Then you are a winner.

There are two primary modes. The first is the ‘Puzzle’ mode. You are presented with one of two hundred brain-teasing scenarios where your goal is to turn each tile white. When you first start, that’s simple. Just pressing a single panel will send everything scattering and probably lead to victory. As you solve one puzzle, the selection screen expands and you gain access to more. Once you complete a certain number, you unlock new music tracks and skins, Lumines-style. They’re just there to look and sound pretty, but who complains about variety?

As was true of Lumines, you’re not going to unlock much content in Honeycomb Beat if you aren’t clever. Puzzle mode progression soon grows difficult with the introduction of a new wrinkle. Certain tiles award you with special moves when properly flipped. You can then activate power flips as desired. Let’s say you want to flip a whole horizontal or diagonal row at once. If you can dream it and you have the right piece, it can happen!

The trick to this, of course, is that you really have to plan your moves ahead. For a second you may think you’ve found the right piece to turn, but every move can have a ripple effect that sends your plans crumbling. The special moves in particular can set you up for a fall, and you only have a limited number of turns (called ‘beats’ in the game) before you have to start all over again. Soon, things get downright devious and around halfway through, most people will probably stop playing the puzzle mode altogether.

Fortunately, they can fall back on ‘Evolution’ mode. It resembles Tetris. You begin with empty space and as you watch, a wall of honeycomb rises from the bottom of the screen. You have to prevent it from reaching the top by eliminating one row after another, which you do by turning each tile to the same color. Later stages begin to move with astonishing speed, so that before you know it you’re either in a zone or you’re swearing like a sailor. Flipping tiles this way and that, tapping special attacks and stringing together moves so that multiple rows vanish together are all enjoyable activities and they have the power to claim your very soul (or a piece of it).

That’s when Honeycomb Beat has you. At least, that’s when it had me. It could be an entirely different story for you. The game’s real beauty is that it has something for any puzzle game aficionado. If you like to take your time and think things through, the ‘Puzzle’ mode is that perfect blend of frustration and addiction that will keep you locked in its icy, wicked grasp for a very long while. Meanwhile, ten stages of varying speed give ‘Evolution’ mode some definite longevity.

Whether you’re playing the ‘Puzzle’ mode or the ‘Evolution’ mode, you’ll eventually going to find your attention waning. That’ll probably take several hours of play. Later, you’ll be ready to go back to the game and start flipping tiles all over again. There’s something about Honeycomb Beat that calls you back to it, just when you think you’ve escaped its allure. If I were a seagull and it were a rotting fish carcass, we’d be nearly inseparable. Have you been looking for a pleasant substitute for Tetris and Lumines? If so, you could do a lot worse. Give it a shot. Revel in the addiction. Fall in step with the Honeycomb Beat.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (April 02, 2007)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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