Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Crack Attack

There was a game called Tetris Attack for the SNES. Crack Attack is an open-source version of that. I never played the original, so I don't have anything to compare it to.

You start with grid with a bunch of multi-colored blocks on it. They scroll upwards as new rows are added to the bottom. The point is to stay alive as long as possible (in multi-player mode) or to score as many points as possible (in single-player mode). You do this by eliminating blocks. Blocks are eliminated when they are in vertical or horizontal lines of at least three, of the same color.

You can only move blocks by swapping two at a time - if one of the blocks is empty, it moves the colored block into the empty space. It's not actually much like Tetris but it does basically revolve around the same sort of goals, so I guess the original name was apt enough. There's a bit more to the game - 'garbage' is generated when you do things like kill a bunch of blocks at once or make combos happen - but it's core mechanic is the simple one you know from games like Puzzle Bobble and Tetris and a gajillion others.

Is it fun? As a single-player game, it's fun enough if you're into this type of game. It's mechanics-based, rather than narrative- or content-based, so I found it boring. I hate you, Linux gaming! It's solidly implemented, and the core mechanic is strong, but I can only do the same thing over and over so much before I hate the fact that I'm alive. I imagine that as a multi-player game, this is somewhat negated by the presence of a live opponent.

Graphically, it's not the bee's knees, but it's crisp-looking, and everything is well defined and easy to differentiate. The transforming and disappearing animations are simple but nicely done. There's no cause for complaint, but you will not be shocked and awed. There's no sound.

Fans of the real-time puzzle genre will enjoy this, I suppose, but I find the core mechanic to be less fun than that of Puzzle Bobble. I would probably also enjoy Gnometris more than this, if Gnometris worked. Since it doesn't, Crack Attack is far better. Crack Attack works.

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