Capsule Reviews: It’s A Puzzlement!

Not every game needs to go for epic length status or terminally flashy visuals to be enjoyable. I tend to gravitate to puzzle games when I need a break from other genres  and there have been a few really cool ones this year. Here’s a quick look at a some of the ones I liked a lot:

 

solar flux switchSolar Flux (Nintendo Switch, $9.99): Firebrand Games’ great space-themed puzzler may look simple, but it riffs on classic arcade gameplay with homages to Asteroids, Lunar Lander, Puzzle Bobble, a bit of Star Castle and probably a few other titles my brain can’t recall in a really fun, challenging manner. While it’s at heart, a supremely soothing experience, the reliance on touchscreen-only controls combined with limited fuel and the need for precision movement of your very fragile ship means you’ll be getting a game that won’t easily be mastered in one sitting. Yes, the music is ear-pleasing and completely chill, but if you’re easily flustered by even the tiniest of mistakes, the gameplay can get pretty tense if you’re not able to tip-tap-steer your way out of trouble. Practice makes perfect, folks.

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That challenge ramps up geometrically during the 80 missions set across 4 galaxies, but nice looks and all, you’re not here to do any sightseeing. Getting the best times as things get complicated is somewhat tricky (but rewarding). So expect a few retries and perhaps a few times when you’re just putting the game down for a bit and coming back later if you lose that zen-like concentration. Don’t worry, though. Those assorted suns you need to recharge will be there when you return. All is good in this universe, just relax and it’ll be quite the thrill.

Score: A (90%)

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Review: Need For Speed NITRO (DS)


Platform: Nintendo DS/DSi

Developer: Firebrand Games

Publisher: Electronic Arts

# of Players: 1 (2 – 4 Single Card/Wi-Fi)


Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)


Official Site


Score: A

If you’re a fan of racing games on the DS, you can absolutely rely on Firebrand Games to cook up something really cool and incredibly fun to play that also allows you to tap into your creative side. Need For Speed NITRO is another superb racer from the team that nicely translates much of what made the Wii version so cool while adding a few DS-exclusive elements such as Single and Multi-card play for up to four players. While the game doesn’t have exactly the same deep paint scheme editor found in its console brother, there is a mostly great color and decal creator that will keep the arty gamer quite occupied as he or she blazes through the game’s wild courses.

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Review: DIRT 2 (DS)

Platform: Nintendo DS/DSi

Developer: Firebrand Games

Publisher: Codemasters

# of Players: 1 (Wi-Fi: 2 – 4)


Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

Score: B+

While the portable versions of DIRT 2 couldn’t be more different from each other in terms of content and overall level of difficulty, the Nintendo DS version of the game actually outstrips the more powerful PSP by miles in terms of bang for the buck. Both games are solid, thrilling arcade racing experiences with the PSP definitely beating the DS code in terms of challenge and overall learning curve. On the other hand, the ability to create your own tracks, customize and upgrade cars gives DS owners endless variety long after they’ve completed the main game. Firebrand Studios has put together one of the best DS racers to date that comes highly recommended whether or not you’re a rally fan.

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