Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hex-A-Hop


The open-source community seems to just love making puzzle games, and so Hex-a-hop* had to be quite a good game to stand out. It stood out. Despite the fact that I hate puzzle games, and I hate them even more after downing a bunch of bottles of Mickey's Big Mouth while fighting a head-cold, I was hooked.

You play the role of a cute little girl who has to crush green tiles. Once you land on one, it cracks, and once you jump off of it to another tile, it's crushed and falls into the sea. The whole 'puzzle' part involves going from tile to tile in such a way as to be able to crush all of them, leaving yourself a solid tile to jump onto from the last one standing.

It's really hard when you've been drinking 'Fine Malt Liquor' and it's probably really hard even when you haven't. After you beat a level, it unlocks more levels in a world-map from which you can select which one you want to play next. If one of them is too frustrating, you just go back to the world map and pick another one... Which will also be too frustrating, eventually. I spent forever trying to brute-force a solution for the second level I played, before giving up and finding much greater success with the alternate branch.

The world is not filled entirely with green tiles: there are a plethora of purpose-specific tiles to aid/hinder you in your quest, and figuring out how to use them, as well as how they interact with other sorts of tiles, is sure to bring you hours of delighted frustration. With over a hundred levels, I have barely touched the surface of what Hex-a-hop has to offer, and it was enough to kick my ass.

The requisite technology analysis: graphically, it's got a cute/cartoony art-style that looks as cute and cartoony as anything else windowed, but blown up to full-screen isn't quite as high-res as commercial software. It still looks really nice. You could even call it 'current-gen' as it's been ported to the PSP and PSP Slim by homebrew developers, so it's running on cutting-edge console hardware. :)

There is no audio, so the audio never gets monotonous. Sound effects would perhaps be nice, but by the time you've restarted the same level thirty times because you're 'in the zone', you won't even notice that it's been completely silent for forever. Until the dog barks and it scares the hell out of you, anyways.

If you're into puzzle-games, this one's a keeper. Even though I'm not, and I'm miserably stuffy-headed, I couldn't help but keep trying... and trying... and trying... to progress in the game. There's no real-time element, so it's entirely a cerebral experience, but its instant rewind and restart features keep the pace up even when you're thoroughly frustrated. If you're only going to install one turn-based logic-puzzle, this is the one (at this point in the list, at least; its closest competition is probably Fish Fillets NG (review here)).

*This is the website for the game, but I can't get it to load. I couldn't even get a return when I pinged the domain. I hope it is just temporarily down, because I want to see the hints page. :)

1 comment:

Carlos said...

Thanks for the review. I am enjoying this puzzle game thoroughly. I was stuck on level 11 and I was looking for hints as well and I found them on this page: http://sid.ethz.ch/debian/hex-a-hop/hex_hints.html. Enjoy!