Honeycomb Beat (DS) review
"The only real problem with Honeycomb Beat (aside from its insistence that I share anything in common with aquatic invertebrates) is that it's not a game that will be played in long stretches; it's a half-an-hour-before-closing-the-DS one."
Honeycomb Beat is all about hexagonals. Small, double-sided hexagonals linked together with other double-sided hexagonals that you flip over to make consecutive lines of the same shade. The catch: each tile you flip (or ‘beat’ as the game prefers to call it) results in adjacent tiles turning over as well. These means that when trying to plan out a way to complete a set line of tiles or nullify a shape of colour, you need to think ahead as to what exactly you’re beating. A wrong nudge here and half the screen is unfortunately flipped, relegating all your careful poking to uselessness.
Poking, of course, because this is a DS game and the system’s gimmick has been royally welcomed.
Both of Honeycomb Beat's modes are played on the touch screen where the beating of tiles is done with a prod of the stylus and a ripple of turning hexes. It’s a clever idea that hasn’t been used elsewhere and how it’s set out makes genuine stabs at trying to appease the two differing camps of puzzle players.
A/ The Thinkers.
Thinker’s behove the rapid-fire shenanigans of your Tetris’ and your Puzzle Fighters and are instead likely to be found pondering over the day's cryptic crossword and wearing a beret at a jaunty angle. Puzzle Mode caters for them.
Split into 200 individual stages, Puzzle Mode gives players a set shape and a fixed numbers of beats to turn all the coloured tiles clear. You can go over your allotted beats, but your rating for the puzzle will decline sharply. The first few stages start off easy, “challenging” the player with simple one-prod solutions and sailing you through the first twenty or so shapes without much of an ordeal. Surge onwards, and the levels and needed combination of beats become more complex with bonus tiles that scythe through lines of hexes thrown into the mix.
For every ten stages you complete you unlock little extras like differing backgrounds or new BGM. And it's a nice little diversion as soon as the puzzles stop being easily solved with trial-and-error tactics and instead insert a real sense of achievement. But then once the two hundred levels are down (and a captivated player will find those levels drop bloody fast) then... that's it. You can always go back and reattempt the levels you bypassed the set number of beats for top ranks, but the lifespan on this function is finite. This is less of a case for the mode that caters for:
B/ The Cortex Surgers
Here you'll find your Tetris-heads who get their heads a-workin’ thanks to a sense of urgency driving them on, and the Evolution mode does just that. Starting with a single line of hexes, intertwined lines below slowly emerge and push the play-field higher up the screen. As ancient puzzle laws clearly dictate, connection with the top of the screen brings about instant death; the only way to clear the lines down before your fate is sealed is to fill them full of one solid colour.
This is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. Trying to nudge one line into touch inevitably plays havoc with the lines below it and trying to manipulate more than one line at a time's demise is a task deserving of Einstein himself. You need to clear a certain number of lines to finish any of the 10 levels, but even in the early going, you'll struggle to finish even the first. Stage one is testing, stage two hard and stage three more reminiscent of levels most games save until last. Even so, get a good run at these stages and you'll still get flattering in-game descriptions such as "you are a jellyfish".
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