Tuesday, March 11, 2008


FloboPuyo is sort of a more traditional, less insane, but also less clever version of the game Cuyo I reviewed a while ago. Both are vaguely Tetris-esque, but while Cuyo depended on different rule-sets and wildly variant graphics on each level, FloboPuyo simply ramps up the opponent's AI with each level. I think.

The gameplay is simple: a single 2x1 colored 'puyo' block drops from the ceiling; position it where you want them. Match the colors in series of four to make them vanish, sending a 'ghost puyo' to your opponent's screen. Removing more than four in a series or performing a chain reaction exponentially increases the number of ghost puyos you send to your opponent's screen, and they're harder to get rid of than the regular ole' puyos. The point is the same as Tetris and Puzzle Bobble and every other game where stuff drops down from the top: don't fill up the screen. Outlast your opponent, you win the level.

There's nothing really unique about the gameplay - it's directly inspired by the game that was titled Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine in the U.S., and doesn't add any depth or complexity that wasn't there. If you like these sort of real-time puzzle games, you'll find it satisfying.

It has an interesting look, but the levels aren't very differentiated; I think there are three backgrounds and they just cycle through them over and over again. However many unique backgrounds there are, they're all pretty similar: they feature a spy/private-eye looking guy in comic-strip style art in between the two players' fields of play. The puyos themselves are sharp and colorful, but they don't have any neat effects or animations. That's not important for the gameplay, but it makes the game compare unfavorably to its peers.

The sound effects get a bit irksome after a while. The music undergoes a sharp change when either of the players is nearing defeat, which is useful. However, the transition is very abrupt, and based solely on blocks reaching a certain height, so it can be discordant when someone's hovering around the transition-point.

There's local multiplayer, and the game also features a decently challenging AI. Network support, as always, would add a lot to the fun-factor and replayability of the game, but the website doesn't mention any plans for implementing it.

FloboPuyo is competent, and aesthetically coherent, but very limited. I'm sure there are better titles out there, featuring the same type of gameplay, so I can't heartily recommend it. For my money, Puzzle Bobble-style mechanics are more enjoyable anyways. After a three year hiatus, it seems to be in active development again, so maybe it will differentiate itself from the pack in the future.

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