Friday, May 1, 2009
Rich Diamond. ($2.99, version 1.1)
Rich Diamond is a puzzle game in which you navigate obstacles to get to the goal. When you first fire up the app, you get a splash intro screen and then go right into the main menu. From this menu you have quite a bit of options. You can play the last puzzle selected, you can select which of the 100 puzzles from the current puzzle pack to play, you can select a puzzle pack, you can view your progress in the current puzzle pack, you can select options, view help, or go to the developer's website. The current difficulty level selected appears on the top of the main menu screen.
The first thing to note is that there are 300 puzzles total (so far). The puzzle packs are divided into Easy, Medium, and Hard, and each level has 100 puzzles. The second thing to note is that you can do any puzzle at any time without having to unlock it. This is really nice in case you get stuck in any particular puzzle.
In the options you can turn up or down (all the way to off) the sound effects or the music volume. The volume is a nice adventurish score. From options you can also choose your perspective. You can choose between a top-down viewpoint or a 3D perspective. Help is very detailed and includes an introduction, moving around, things in the game, menu controls, selecting puzzles, and even further online help if needed.
There are many things that will get in your way. There are walls that you cannot walk through, boxes that you can push and throw into water to make bridges, rocks to plug pits and make bridges over lava, arrows that block your way once they're shot, bombs (it's a good idea not to be next to them when they explode and not to run into them), water, lava, pits, grass that gets trampled if you go over it but makes things get stuck to it if not trampled, slopes, slopes that change direction, ice that makes you slip, lattices that traps some item to it, items that push you into a different direction, bi-directional and uni-directional doors and doors that need keys to open or a plate to be activated to open them, power-ups that protect you from other things, robots that chase you and zap you, monster and spiders that want nothing good with you, and surprise squares - you never know what's below!
Needless to say, you're in for an adventure.
If you go to the select puzzle screen, you are presented with the puzzles for the current difficulty level. They have one of three colored diamonds. Grey if not completed, red if completed, and blue if completed in a certain number of steps (mastered). You can change the level selection menu to show number of steps taken in each level as opposed to the level number.
Once you have selected a level, the fun begins. You can move a step at a time by either tapping in the direction you want to move in anywhere on the screen. If you are at the bottom left and you tap the upper right area, you will move right. You can also use a control pad at the bottom center of the screen. At the top of the screen you have the puzzle number which alternates with how many gems you have yet to collect and also the lowest number of steps you have taken to complete that level (which doesn't appear if it's your first time doing that level and instead shows that it has not been solved yet). You also have how many steps you have taken so far and what is the maximum number of steps you can take in order to get that coveted blue diamond on the level screen and master the level. You can Skip a move, which means you don't move but the board does (i.e. enemies; this is helpful if you're trying to escape an enemy's path). There's also an undo button. This means you can pretty much keep undoing and moving until you master any particular level.
From the game screen you can also tap Menu to get more options.
Hint: The game will show you the next move. If you have taken some extraneous moves, if will back you up to where you started on the wrong path.
Show: Your position is saved and the solution shown.
Redo: If you have used the undo button, this undos the undo.
Begin: Re-start the current level.
Save: You can have one save per puzzle and it will save the moves you have taken so far in the game.
Play: Returns you to the checkpoint, if any.
More: Even more menu options.
Quit: Go back to the level selection screen.
The third menu is only activated if you have solved the puzzle before, and it will take through the solution step by step or show you the best (lowest number of steps taken) solution. Show also seems to be activated only when you have completed a level.
The game pretty much allows you a great amount of freedom. You can take as many steps as you want to solve a level without having to worry about time. Once you solve it you can "cheat" and see the best solution and then copy it to get that blue diamond. Or you can try and try again until you come to the answer yourself.
When you are playing, the exit door to a level remains closed until you collect all the gems. There are "jungle" sounds in the game sometimes, along with sound effects when you interact with the environment such as splashing when something falls in water or burning if a box falls on lava. The graphics are basic sprites but do not take away from the gameplay.
This is not a half an hour game (and if is, leave a comment so that you can be properly admired). At a minute a puzzle, that's five hours. And some puzzles will certainly take you much more than a minute, specially is you try to master all of them. This much gameplay is certainly worth $3. Highly recommended!