Thursday, May 7, 2009
Trixel. ($2.99, version 1.0)
Trixel is a puzzle game. You have a board with different-colored tiles and your goal is to match a pre-determined pattern.
When you first start up the app you have six menu items. You can go to the puzzles, race the clock, change the settings, view records, take a look at the credits, and get some help.
The help is basic and goes over controls and special items. Records include what percentage of each difficulty level you have completed, how many crystals you have collected, and how many gold, silver, and bronze trophies you have. You can also get statistics on how many maps you have completed in Race the Clock mode (Relaxed, Fast, Frantic, and Furious), how many moves you have taken, time taken, and the date. There are some records already entered for you in Race the Clock mode for you to beat. There's also an option to clear all records, which also deletes all progress.
In settings you can turn the sound and special effects on and off and there's a slider for the music volume. There's also a music pass-through option so that you can play your own music, which is excellent. It remembers your selections even after you close and reopen the app.
The Race the Clock mode is not accessible from the beginning. There's no indication on the help files about what you have to do to unlock it, so I'd guess you have to beat all the puzzles in Puzzle mode first.
The gameplay consists of going from tile to tile turning the tiles into different colors until you match a set pattern. When you start the game for the first time (or after a reset) you have an option to go through a brief tutorial or not. I would like a Skip option so that even if you select the tutorial you can skip it after a few screens instead of having to close and reopen the app, especially since this choice applies to every new gameplay piece you uncover (i.e. wormholes, special items). If you close and re-start, you get the option to resume your last puzzle. You can only move up, down, left, and right, and you cannot wrap around (i.e. go right at the rightmost tile to end up on the left-most tile). You have a maximum number of moves you can take. On Easy level 12, for example, you have to solve it within nine moves. Five moves gets you gold, seven moves gets you silver, and nine moves gets you bronze. This is the one part I dislike about this game. I would like to have an unlimited number of moves, even if I don't get a trophy at all. That way I can get through the game and go back and get trophies on all the levels later, like an achievement system.
When you click on Puzzles at the main menu, you can choose from four difficulties - Easy, Medium, Hard, and Bonus. Medium, Hard, and Bonus are locked at the beginning and it seems you have to beat each level to have the next one unlocked. When you select a level, you get a list of puzzles. Easy has 45 levels. Levels are locked until you beat the level before it. Something really nice is that you can revisit any level you have completed before. That way if you get a bronze trophy you can retry until you get gold.
Once you select a level, you get to the game screen. The board is in the middle. On the top you have the pattern to match on the upper left, the level (including the difficulty) and the current number of moves on the center, and the maximum number of moves to achieve each trophy on the upper right.
On the bottom you have buttons to warp, to undo, and to skip to the next level. The pause button allows you to restart the level, exit to the level selection menu, go to the settings, or go to the help. On the center you have your crystal counter. Undo gives you a warning that you are about to use crystals and the option to opt out of it, but warp doesn't. Skip Level also doesn't warn you it will cost you crystals (and at eight crystals, it's a big hit). It would be great if anytime you are about to use crystals you get a warning screen (especially since you have to guess what the buttons do since they are not covered in the help section; I had to reset the game to get more crystals to see if the next level button gave you a warning). The buttons are covered when you first unlock them but it would be great to have them explained in the help for future reference. During gameplay there's arrows emanating from your current square that let you know what the valid moves are.
If you take too many steps you can retry or go the level select menu. Once you complete a stage you have the option to go to the next puzzle, start over, and play the stage again.
On the levels menu you can see which levels have crystals. If you have previously collected all crystals in a certain level, they don't regenerate. This adds a level of difficulty because if they regenerated all you have to do is grind a level and get hundreds of crystals (Trixel RPG anyone?)
There are some special items that help you out a bit. Most of them cost a certain number of crystals, which you can collect throughout the game by going over the tile that has the crystal. The freebies (no crystals needed) are tiles that allow you to move along the diagonals, wormholes (go in one tile and reappear on a tile at the other end of the wormhole; arrows indicate entrances and exits), sequences of tiles that have to be visited in order, counter tiles which have to be visited a certain number of times, and rollback tiles which reset the puzzle back to its starting position. The "paid" items include an undo button, warping to any tile from any tile, and skip to the next puzzle. In the Race The Clock Mode you can also add time to your clock.
There's some relaxing music and there's different beeping sound effects while selecting tiles or menu options. There's a little congratulatory sound when you solve a level and a little scolding sound when you exceed the maximum number of moves.
Trixel is a very polished puzzle game. The only things that would make it perfect would be to add warnings whenever crystals are being used, allowing an unlimited number of steps without awarding trophies, allowing someone to choose the tutorial but being able to rapidly skip through it, and adding button information to the help. The visuals and music add to the gameplay. It's a solid buy, and this will give you hours of puzzlish entertainment.