By John Walker on March 29th, 2008 at 1:20 am.
“It’s dynamic, packed with explosions, powerups and pterodactyls. There’s constatntly some stuff breaking into pieces on the screen with over the top “kaboom” sounds and excited announcer voice-over. And well, it’s… fun :).”
Wait, do they think we’re the sorts of people who are easily entertained by noises and explosions? Well… we are. So there. Good work Codeminion!
StoneLoops is a sort of Puzz Loop/Zuma clone, but makes a key change to differentiate it from a crowded crowd. You are still required to match at least three coloured gems by firing them at an ever-encroaching chain, twisting through the narrow passages. But rather than fire them from an endless source, here you pluck the gems from what’s already present, rearranging them in order to eliminate. It’s a subtle change, but an effective one, and as someone who’s never been particularly taken by Puzz Loop I found this immediately a lot more fun.
The presentation really is nicely done. (If somewhat similar looking to the legions of casual games out there. I really need to do some research here, but do all these independent casual developers use the same piece of software to design their games? Or are they all secretly one person, working under numerous names, cleverly collecting all the money in the world for his nefarious purposes?) Not only does it explode satisfyingly, along with pronouncing your work “ASTONISHING!”, but there’s some smart visual cues. Because your gem firer works in both directions, it’s necessary to make sure you know which direction it’s going in. The verticle line is illuminated not only in the colour of the gem you’re targetting, but also shows a stream of arrows letting you know in which direction you’re firing. It’s a smart, neat design that’s immediately intuitive. The game deserves special commendation for this detail.
Then there’s a couple of extra modes. Strategy only advances the stream when you make a move, forcing you to plan your actions carefully, rather than frantically firing. Survival is, as you’d expect, an increasingly fast-moving version asking you to stay alive as long as you can. All three modes offer achievements to unlock. So no, it’s not exactly Peggle. But in an increasingly busy market of casual games that all look awfully similar, this is cunningly designed and shows extra effort. It’s certainly worth taking advantage of the free hour available if you get the game here.