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Chime (Xbox 360) artwork

Chime (Xbox 360) review

"Charity and video games might seem like an unusual combination, but it's one that works if Chime is anything to go by: no less than 60% of the five pound/400 point charge goes to various charities around the world. But don't be fooled into thinking this is a forgettable experiment to bring goodwill and gaming together. "

Charity and video games might seem like an unusual combination, but it's one that works if Chime is anything to go by: no less than 60% of the five pound/400 point charge goes to various charities around the world. But don't be fooled into thinking this is a forgettable experiment to bring goodwill and gaming together.

The goal in Chime is to cover as much of the grid as possible by creating quads of at least three-by-three squares. Once created, you have the opportunity to expand the quad before it fills up. As you're fitting shapes together, a beat-line is constantly working its way left-to-right across the screen: once it passes an inactive quad (i.e. one that has stopped filling up and can no longer be expanded), it is 'stamped' down into the grid and marked red. Shape fragments that weren't stamped as part of the quad remain on the board for a set number of beat-line passes; you can get rid of them by using them as part of a new quad, but if you leave just one fragment too long, the rest will disappear and you'll lose your score multiplier. If you manage to fill the entire grid, the level will restart and you retain your current score and time leftover, in addition to score bonuses.

It's a little complicated at first (and could have done with a tutorial), but you'll have it sussed after ten minutes. Once you understand how Chime works, you'll appreciate there is quite a lot to manage if you want to get a good score. Expanding a quad increases its value, but lots of little quads will build your multiplier quickly. Likewise, focusing on coverage will allow you to get to the bonus stage, but leaving fragments will harm your score. Balancing these things is the key to climbing the leaderboards.

It's a nifty little puzzler in its own right, but the real draw is Chime musical interaction and the trance-like state it can induce on the player. The ambient tracks (supplied by artists including Moby and Phillip Glass) start out light and thin, but gradually build as the quads get stamped. Depending on the shape and location of the quad, a different sound will play and affect the overall piece. It's quite enthralling, and not-at-all difficult to forget the time and what's going on around you. Free mode is an ideal environment for this; playing around with the different sounds and samples to see what you can create.

With no multiplayer features to speak of, competitive leaderboards are probably where you'll be turning most of your attention. The boards track scores and grid coverage for each of the five tracks over the nine-, six-, and three-minute modes. And beyond the 'thanks for buying' 50-pointer, there are some devilishly challenging achievements (notably creating width-spanning quads on every track and full grid coverage of every track on three-minute mode).

Five tracks might seem a little on the light side, but at this price and considering the charitable donation, it's difficult to feel too hard done by. It all comes together in a package that is relatively good value for money, aurally appealing, and thoroughly addictive. And doing a small bit for charity is always a plus.

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Community review by PAJ89 (February 18, 2010)

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aschultz posted February 24, 2010:

I was a bit confused about the gameplay descriptions here and even with the screenshots I wasn't sure--Quads of 3x3 squares? I think what you mean is that we have a bunch of tetraminoes and pentominoes and they need to make squares with whatever other miscellaneous squares are on the field.

I know I've had a lot of puzzle reviews where I had something creative to talk about and wound up getting bogged down in the mechanics, or jumping to the mechanics too quickly. This happened here I guess. Still, once I was able to sit down and sort things out, it seemed like a neat idea.

The first paragraph also seems interesting, but then it gets dropped right away. I'd be interested if this sort of thing happened before, or right off the bat if Chime is interesting.

This is one of those reviews where I think I get it, and it seems like a fun intuitive game I'd like to play, but I can't help feel there's a jump or two that might clarify things. Maybe say up front that it's a 5-level game without a tutorial and it's a bit short, but given it's for charity, it's a good idea...

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