• Snapdots Review - Nintendo DS DSiware

    Thereís a line to be drawn, but where do you draw it? When a game shamelessly re-uses content from another game is it always bad, or is it okay if thereís some tenuous link between the two games?

    Back in 2001, Compileís Guru Logic Champ was released unto the world. Itís perhaps the greatest puzzle game on the GameBoy Advance, and certainly in the top three.

    In it, you had to solve puzzles by rotating a grid of squares and shooting a limited number of blocks before sucking them off. Before, er, oh thereís not really any other way of saying it Ė sorry. In each puzzle there were solid immovable blocks that if you shot a block against them, theyíd stay there, and doing so is the only way to get blocks to stay on the board. You could also shoot blocks against the blocks that youíd placed previously. You had to continue to shoot blocks and... the other thing... until youíd placed a block on every coloured square that needed them. This then formed a picture which coloured in and a joyous little melody played, and your heart was filled with warmth and undying love.

    To make things a bit more difficult there were some special blocks. There were holes which didnít allow blocks to be placed on top of them, bouncy blocks which moved one space (or bounced your block back one space) when you hit them, and then a different kind of bouncy block, an immovable one that if you tried to shoot a block against, itíd bounce right off.

    There was a beauty in the puzzle design as harder puzzles allowed for themselves to be almost completely solved before revealing a little trick, something the player hadnít noticed that not only meant that the puzzle couldnít be solved, but had to be solved in an entirely different way. Itís a difficult thing to achieve in puzzle design, but any game thatís managed it shines brightly as a result.

    If youíre worried that youíre reading a review of Guru Logic Champ, donít be. Itís just that Snapdots takes exactly the same gameplay mechanics and in some instances, takes a little bit more besides.

    For 500 DSiWare Nintendo Wii Nintendo Pointsô Snapdots gives the player 150 puzzles that play in an identical manner to those in Guru Logic Champ. Some of these puzzles play identically because they are identical, with entire puzzles just transposed into Snapdots' whole. Itís here where the dilemma comes in. Where is the line?

    After Compile collapsed, D4Enterprise consumed it. While it seems fair that the company would want to revisit the exceptionally strong puzzle mechanic (and they certainly have more right than Popcap did) it also seems a bit odd that the repetition of puzzles is so blatant. With an endless supply of items that could be turned into puzzles, it also seems needless.

    Leaving any issues with borrowed content aside, the gameís design isnít as good. The overall palette is bland and thereís just not that joy that Guru Logic Champ creates when you solve a puzzle. The puzzle design is mostly strong, though, and there are many occasions where it, well, shines brightly. The difficulty curve is perfect as the puzzles get harder and harder to solve with more and more potential methods of solving them. The last set includes some very difficult puzzles, and while it's never as hard as the format would allow it to be, there's plenty of thinking to be done.

    Where the puzzle design isnít as good is in its previews. Nearly every puzzle in Guru Logic Champ has a silhouette that resembles something and, even if they donít want to, the player canít help but guess at what theyíre drawing. Theyíre either right Ė pat on the back Ė or completely wrong as the game takes an established shape or outline, something that was obvious, and changes it into something unexpected. Laugh, grin. Snapdotsí silhouettes are made up of things that are obvious and turn out to be that thing, or a random mess of lines and smudges that turn out to be something almost entirely unrelated to the puzzle youíve just solved.

    It does have some nice touches. After each level youíre given a cute little description, fact or joke about the item youíve just drawn from a girl who has crash landed her UFO here on Earth and is discovering new items. Itís a quaint little tale that knits all the puzzles together nicely, but of course doesnít offer the laugh-out-loud silliness thatís to be found in Guru Logic Champís story.

    So, Snapdots. It doesnít have the style of Guru Logic Champ, doesnít have the charm, doesnít have the humour, doesnít have the cleverness. In spite of all that, it does have the main thing that made Compileís game so great, and thatís the basic mechanics. If offers them to the player for 10% of the cost of solving the puzzles on the GameBoy Advance and it should at least be applauded for that because the more people that get to experience them the better. Solving the puzzles is as fun as it ever was, and as life-consuming. Solving them all still leaves a hole where the player wonders "what next?"

    Itís also important to mention that without experiencing Guru Logic Champ first, Snapdots is still a very competent game, and one of the best puzzle games playable on the DSi. When youíve finished though, we would urge that you to do what you can to experience Guru Logic Champ, because Snapdots does feel a bit like handling stolen goods sometimes.

    If you want to get a feel for what the fuss is all about, head on over to our Guru Logic Champ review and grab the PC demo version linked on that page.

    Score: 7/10
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. qaopjlll's Avatar
      qaopjlll -
      You're way too harsh on the game. Your review should focus less on the fact that it's a port/remake of another game made by the same company that approximately 3 people on this side of the globe have ever heard of, and more on the fact that it's one of the very best puzzle games on the DS.
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