Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Four Quarter Frenzy -- Pocoro
My first review in a series devoted to games that cost a dollar, Four Quarter Frenzy, brought me to a little puzzle game called Pocoro. Most things that can be bought for said amount, especially in the world of gaming, are usually very dated, very short, or very, VERY bad, with some being all three. With some amount of luck, the first choice for this series - and the freshman entry from its developer - ended up being none of these three.
The premise of the game is pretty simple. You're a ball on a maze of numbered tiles. Move over these tiles and their number decreases by one. Move over it when it says "1" and it becomes cleared but also becomes a nice little roadblock. Your objective is to clear all of them and have your last move be onto a goal. Some puzzles are straightforward, others require a bit more logic and/or trial and error.
The presentation of the game is as simple and straightforward as its idea and also just as solid. The tiles have a different color for each number and a lack of backdrop means a lack of distraction or confusion, though I felt the brightness of everything made my eyes feel a little tired after longer periods of play. A thankfully relaxing and soothing song plays in the background as you try to figure each puzzle out, which is nice because I probably would've ruined something if there was either no music or something with bass.
Keeping the player calm was probably a good idea on the part of the developer. Some of the puzzles are long and having to redo a minute and a half of puzzle solving can cause more frustration than an airborne controller can handle. I have to thank my beloved girlfriend at this point for solving a puzzle that I was stuck on for, in terms of actual time of play, over an hour. This was a puzzle that, when run through while knowing the answer, takes roughly a minute, showing the level of devotion one might need to get through some of the puzzles. I personally felt the reward of solving was worth the price of eye strain and frustration but, as with any logic problem, your level of frustration or reward may vary.
The game did have a few problems. One was the pacing. The previously mentioned roadblock of a puzzle was followed by ones I ran through like a yellow light at one in the morning. I'd compare it to solving a long, complicated algebra equation and then following it up with a thirty digit number being divided by three. Might take you a handful of seconds to work through it but it can feel more like busy work than actually solving a puzzle. I really felt like some puzzles were about 10-20 spots too late, making them feel uninspired. Two, the camera. On some of the puzzles you just can't move the camera far enough to view the entire puzzle. For those that want to plan out all their movements before actually doing them, this makes such a strategy impossible. And, three, the teleport squares. Each of them is black with a red spiral inside. On levels with only one set, this isn't a problem. Some levels, however, have four or five sets and each of these looks the exact same. Simply making the spiral inside a different color would have solved this simple problem.
All in all, the game - costing less than the Dr. Pepper I had at lunch - lasted me about five hours over the course of three weeks and was the perfect pick up and play game when I didn't want to rely on dexterity or competition. And, while the game has its dry spots here and there, I definitely found myself wanting more.
Pocoro is an Indie Game available on XBox Live for 80 MS Points. The reviewer played through all 75 levels occasionally singing "Pooo-coro, Pooo-cooo-rooo! Pooo-coro, Pooo-cooo-rooo!"