0-D Beat Drop (Xbox 360) review
"0-D Beat Drop sets itself up as a fusion of rhythm and puzzle games, but the way it handles music doesn't fundamentally change the structure of its source material. No matter how many modes it throws at you, this is still an easier remix of Puyo Puyo with a different skin."
0-D Beat Drop is a combat puzzle game, ideally made for two or more human players. As you match up multi-colored pieces, a reservoir of blocks accumulates in you bank. When you complete a chain, the floodgates open on your opponent. All those pieces fall down on their playing field, messing up their mojo or even overflowing their space to bust them out of the competition. Of course, that same pressure bears down on everyone. Make a mistake or let another player beat you to the punch, and that wave is going to wash over you.
It's a fun way to test your wits against another person, but it was even better when it was called Puyo Puyo (or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine). 0-D Beat Drop essentially rips off the basics of that established puzzle franchise. The pieces are shaped differently, an elbow consisting of three blocks with potentially contrasting colors. These drop from the top of the screen, and you need to place them so like colors are adjacent. The blocks do, however, still fall in the same way; if a piece is set over a ledge, any part not supported will break off and continue to follow gravity. Matches formed can be horizontal, vertical, or snake around right angles. Whereas its inspiration required four consecutive colors for a match, though, 0-D only needs three. That means that a homogeneous piece can form a match all on its own.
Like Puyo Puyo, lining up the blocks is only the most basic step; you won't earn many points by keeping your area completely clean. Your real goal is to build up large chain reactions where eliminating one row or column will cause more and more matches to fall into place. The larger the chain, the higher the score, and the more shadow pieces get dumped to crowd out your opponent. Since making individual matches is extremely easy, this setup provides the only incentive to dabble in dangerous territory.
0-D does present one original component: music. The matches you make do not disappear automatically. That's where the idea of the titular Beat Drop emerges; it's the spark that ignites your explosive chain. Each round is accompanied by a song – by default a limited selection of electronic techno or J-Pop. Its rhythm controls a meter that moves up and down in time with the music. A Beat Drop occurs when you lock a piece into place while the meter is in a specific range, and as you perform consecutive Beat Drops, the range gets smaller and smaller. It's never too taxing; you just have to be in sync with the background beat.
That requirement provides and enjoyable twist, especially because it will calibrate with any song you want to import. However, that doesn't revolutionize this familiar experience. 0-D Beat Drop sets itself up as a fusion of rhythm and puzzle games, but the way it handles music doesn't fundamentally change the structure of its source material. No matter how many modes it throws at you – single and multiplayer, offline and online (assuming there are any players left out there) – this is still a easier remix of Puyo Puyo with a different skin.
Staff review by Benjamin Woodhouse (April 25, 2010)
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