GAME REVIEWS

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Timeball (Blodia)

~ BLODIA ~
Hudson Soft / Manuel Constantinidis / Broderbund Japan
HuCard
1990

Unless this sort of thing is really, really up your alley, you'll probably find that the underlying concept grows tiresome really, really quickly. And by "this sort of thing," I certainly don't mean puzzle games in general. I like a number of PCE puzzlers, from well-fillers like Puyo Puyo to block-shovers like Tricky Kick. But this one is part of a separate breed, the Pipe Dream type that most players are able to sit with for only a short period and don't ever feel like returning to once that period has passed.

Each of Blodia's puzzles consists of tiles depicting a maze of pipes. Traveling through these pipes is a tiny crystal ball that takes all the time in the world as it dilly-dallies along from point A to point B. Meddle with the tiles--switch them around, slide them over, do whatever it takes to ensure that our slow-moving sphere never runs out of corridor to traverse. Once every inch of a stage's tubing has been graced by the sacred orb, the level concludes and a new trial commences.

Some boards contain vast stretches of open space, indicating that only the slightest bit of pipe tinkering is in order. Other setups present tortuous tube segments that wind their way about the playfield and converge in intricate bunches. While some problematic areas can be fixed up long before the ball even heads their way, many require that you repair them as the sphere is in their very midsts. These on-the-fly jobs demand quick thought and finger work and constitute Blodia's most “intense” moments.



The game is fairly inoffensive at first. Both of its selectable tunes are listenable; and eliminating the final bit of pipe in a given stage always evokes a little surge of pride, as this is one of those puzzlers that make the player feel extraordinarily clever whenever a board is cleared.



But there came a point when I just couldn't stand it anymore, even though I tend to tolerate intolerable concepts for a lot longer than most other players do. Some superior puzzlers like Tetris and Adventures of Lolo are immeasurably clever in concept and design, and the challenges they present are exciting and intense. Blodia doesn’t come off as the masterwork of a genius, nor does it ever really get my blood pumping, even during its “close calls.” Countless twisty pipe segments, monochrome game boards, and an indifferent little ball are not going to hold the attention of most folks who have Gate of Thunder resting on their shelves.



Maybe if the designers had found some way to incorporate the bottom-of-the-board artwork themes into the action, the overall product would've held more appeal.

Probably not.


Sweet.

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