Release Date:October 29, 2009
Summary:Takes the Samegame classic premise and puts it on the iPhone - all with the same bubble popping, strategical gameplay. Sadly, with hardly any sound.
It’s back to the bubble popping game for me. Seriously, do these games ever get old?
Similar to how Elias Pietila redid the immensely popular Labyrinth game by Codify AB with his Wooden Labyrinth 3D game, Samegame Gravitized takes the bubble popping premise seen in other apps we’ve reviewed on Appstruck, and manages to heighten the bar a bit – in some respects. After some research, I realized that Samegame is pronounced /sah-meh-gah-meh/ in Japanese, and is actually a 1985 game by Kuniaki Moribe that has been relayed onto numerous other system platforms throughout the years. Some game formulas are just tried and true.
ooPixel (cleverly, the double “o’s” are actually rendered as an infinity symbol in the developer’s web design) has created a fun, if somewhat noiseless game that had me fiddling with brightly colored circles for hours at a time, before realizing that I had gone beyond my natural sleeping hour, thus completely wrecking my Fall Forward extra hour of sleep. The game has a cheerfully bright opening screen complimented by an equally bright playing field, with circles – bubbles, rather, each with their own inner, distinct symbol – in colors of green, red, blue and orange. Three playing modes are presented – Gravitized, Classic, Puzzle -, with Puzzle by far being my favorite. In Classic mode, the objective is simply to destroy enough pieces to make it to the next level – three of a kind is the minimum to explode a group. Gravitized Mode takes into account the angle at which you tilt your iPhone, allowing you to swiftly change the flow of gravity should you want the bubble to fall to the left instead of the right. Puzzle Mode creates different play scenarios where you must logically figure out the order in which to destroy pieces, so other pieces may fall next to like-colored pieces, with the eventual destruction of them all.
In Gravitized and Classic Mode, two special bubble pieces in the form of a skull ensconced in a black bubble, and a rainbow colored bubble destroy groups of blocks, and act as wildcards, respectively. They each have their strengths, particularly in later levels when the color Pink is introduced and there’s more of a chance you’ll have clusters of two like-colored bubbles, and no chance of getting a third squeezed in. Obviously, you can’t choose what color the rainbow bubble will be – rather, depending on whatever group it touches that you choose to explode, it’ll explode alongside them. Strategy pretty much boils down to exploding larger clusters of bubbles over smaller ones, and scrutinizing the scene for the potential benefits or repercussions of exploding a particular cluster. Thinking ahead and predictive abilities – much like in chess – are great assets for this game; otherwise, it can easily result in an idle, dull hunt and peck style of game, with the player just popping any cluster he sees. Of course, playing this way won’t get you farther than level 3, so I recommend actual thinking.
Gravitized Mode didn’t seem as fun as I thought it would be – it’s actually quite difficult to tilt your iPhone and change the movement of the falling bubbles, and usually isn’t effective and influential on gameplay strategy unless you remember to do it when exploding a large cluster. I was content to just play as I would in Classic Mode, meaning I could do without it. However, Puzzle Mode is fantastic. It gives a new edge to gameplay, and makes logic and predictive thinking more of a factor. 20 levels are offered, with increasing levels of difficulty, and an easy refresh button will have you starting from scratch in no time when you realize three bubble bursts last, you shouldn’t have tapped the blue cluster before the red one.
Now, I’m a very aural person when it comes to games. Well, okay, I’m definitely a graphics whore – visuals are tantamount to a good game, even such simple, classic games as Gravitized – but sounds are especially important when it comes to being fully immersed in a game. One of the reasons I loved StoneLoops of Jurassica so much was because the explosion sounds, the semi-organic crunching of the balls clacking against each other, was so satisfying to the ear. I could have vicariously played from those sounds, alone. In Samegame Gravitized, a digital pop is heard when tapping a group – fine enough – but then a fiery explosion is seen with the loud sound of… silence. Absolutely nothing. Even when you use the withering destruction Skull bubble there is no sound effect to accompany the explosion. Just this little *pop*. It’s so mundane it’s outrageous. I’m even willing to urge the developer to put in-game music to counter the deafening silence of this game – and I tend to mock in-game music. The game just needs a little something to tantalize the senses, which the pretty visuals and interesting gameplay almost accomplish on their own.
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