Developer: City Connection
Publisher: Dispatch Games
Release Date: 20th September (Digital), 10th October (Physical)
Price as of Article for Digital Copy: $29.99 USD, £24.99 GBP
Price as of Article for Physical Copy: $39.99 USD, £34.99 GBP
There isn’t really one and thats fine here, this game is a puzzle game like Tetris or Puyo Puyo – In fact the game was a big arcade hit in the 90’s with a bit of a cult status in Japan. The game came out at launch in Japan and Dispatch Games have translated the game to English for our pleasure.
The soundtrack fits very nicely, featuring a bunch of happy upbeat tunes in a very Japanese puzzle game style. These are basically pop songs and they dont grate at all – in fact they are quite catchy.
The game is very colourful and cartoony, the images are all drawings including the fruit that drop. There really is not a lot to say here, the graphics are nothing special and pretty boring. To keep things interested you have Plumi which is like a pet that sits near you and eats the fruit you clear, there are many to unlock and they look quite cute – thats the best thing i can say on the graphics, this gaming is wowing nobody visually.
This is the main event, as a Puzzle game its all about the gameplay. The game is extremely simple – you have different coloured fruits and your goal is to create a horizontal line of fruit that are the same colour in order to clear that line. Fruit drop from the top in a square bunch of four, you can rotate them left or right in order to create a line and as you progress you have to contend with more colours of fruit and faster drops.
Where the gameplay gets interesting is the flanking system, Soldam’s fruits have their colour swapped when surrounded vertically, horizontally, or diagonally by another colour pair on either side.
Whichever colour you last cleared moves down underneath the bottom row and acts as a platform for big swaps spanning large distances.
When I first played the beginner mode I thought I would immediately know what I was doing which is incorrect, the game is different enough to be interesting, it has a slower pace at first and you can damage your plans easily by flanking when you don’t mean to.
You do get the hang of it quite quickly and the game is fun to play, it becomes fiendishly difficult later down the line in Soldam mode – the main mode of 300 levels which get progressively harder.
You also have challenge mode which is a nice touch, you have a task such as clear 4 rows at once or clear 3 rows with a set of pre defined blocks, this mode plays like a logic puzzle and its a nice variant with 50 levels.
Showdown mode is the games multiplayer option and interestingly it has you able to clear rows with just one colour each that doesn’t change. Your goal is to clear rows which then stack up your opponents side until one of you reaches the top and loses. The sides and bottom are all in the colour you can clear allowing for large combos on the smaller half grid when compared to single player. Its a simple game which offers some fun but doesn’t offer a fast pace thrill like some of its competition.
Its good to see that Dispatch Games added an online mode as well which is in the same Showdown format.
To add another reason to keep playing the game features a very large list of Plumis, these things are basically pets that eat the fruit that you erase – as you progress through the game you unlock more of them and you can see your Plumi on screen in the Soldam mode.
The controls work well and a game like this is ideal on a portable console where you can kill time on a journey or when relaxing.
Online mode is very welcome and offers some longevity to the game, Challenge Mode gives you a nice option which feels quite different from the main event albeit each level is very repetitive.
Soldam mode itself is good but of course very repetitive. The issue for me is the price point – a digital copy will set you back $29.99 and a physical copy is a steep $39.99.
When the game was first released in Japan it was with the initial line up and the console was brand new. Now this game is competing the likes of Tetris vs Puyo Puyo at the same price point as well as many other games.