Concentration (PC) review
"It's not that the artwork is bad—it's not—but it's obscure and could mean a few things. Half the time, you'll look at a picture and say to yourself “Hmm, that's either a stick, a log, a limb, a branch or a twig or something else I'm forgetting.” Solving the puzzles is tiresome instead of fun."
Gamers booting up Concentration after installing it on their computers will note the following message as the game loads:
This game is for fun only. No prizes will be awarded.
That message is actually a promise of unpleasant things to come. There are two components, so let's examine them one at a time.
This game is for fun only.
That's simple enough. We play games for fun. Unfortunately, Concentration is fun in much the same way that cavities are.
Before you think that I just don't understand the point, let me preempt your comments with one of my own: you're completely wrong! Concentration is modeled after the classic television show, which I happen to appreciate. I know that makes me sound a little bit like a grandma, but it's a neat game show so screw you!
The way it works is that two people head up to a board comprised of several panels. Then they select two tiles from the field, and if those match then they get to add that prize to their pile. However, the person who wins isn't necessarily the one who builds the biggest heap. That honor goes to the one who actually solves the puzzle. As in Wheel of Fortune, you can amass a pile of prizes only to find that it didn't matter as your wily (and in this case invisible) opponent takes home a microwave oven for arriving at the solution first. That can be frustrating, but it's not as big a problem as the puzzles themselves.
An example is in order. During one of my first games, I managed to reveal the complete mural and had the chance to solve. I had no clue what I was looking at, though. There was a bumblebee in the upper left corner, which I wisely knew probably meant 'bee' and not 'bumblebee.' Next, there was a picture of a freckle-faced boy with a smile and an arrow pointing at his chin. There were other things too, like a picture of a playing card and some other letters and a heart. Five seconds before my timer expired, I thought 'duh' and typed in 'Between a rock and a hard place.'
After I narrowly managed my short-lived victory, the game broke things down for me, as if explaining why I should have known it all along. I could practically hear the voice in my head saying “This little kid is a 'tween,' you know, because sometimes people call teenagers 'tweens' and we were being clever and everyone should know that anyway and this freckle is actually acne so you know he's old enough and this little heart here is supposed to make you think 'hard,' because they sort of sound the same.”
Ugh. It's not that the artwork is bad--it's not--but it's obscure and could mean a few things. Half the time, you'll look at a picture and say to yourself “Hmm, that's either a stick, a log, a limb, a branch or a twig or something else I'm forgetting.” Solving the puzzles is tiresome instead of fun, and that brings us to the second part of that boot screen message:
No prizes will be awarded.
If you were playing the game show on television, you'd take home that awesome television, or you'd depart for a tropical island. You'd care about the puzzle because solving it would mean something. If you do well in this version of Concentration, though, you get to pat yourself on the back and then you head to work the next day to earn a paycheck for activity that isn't really any worse than playing this game.
Home versions of games like Wheel of Fortune offer puzzles and if you don't solve one, you know that at least you tried and you had fun. With Jeopardy! you learn interesting trivia. In contrast, Concentration offers almost nothing. You don't even get to point and laugh at an on-screen rival, because there isn't one. Prizes are barely even represented on-screen and are repeated too often from one game to the next. Apathy reigns. Even old NES games managed to make it more exciting to win fake prizes. Here, you're just looking at a list and hoping yours is bigger. Yay?
I understand, of course, that game developers have a job to do. They get the rights to a cool game, and maybe it's not easy to translate that into a good game. It's their job, though, and the developer in this case just dropped the ball. This version offers nothing of note that you can't get from the old NES game, Classic Concentration. That's the final nail in this game's coffin. No prizes will be awarded.
Staff review by Jason Venter (August 21, 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.
If you enjoyed this Concentration review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!