Date: 04-30-2011 18:30
Author: Jesse Dietderich

PDC profile: Jesse

There always seems to be a never ending supply of puzzle games coming out on the PlayStation Network. Chime Super Deluxe is an extended port of the well received original, but has it been extended enough?

Puzzle Games, Music, & Me

I have been a fan of puzzle games from the late 80ís, but as much as I hate referring back to an old game in a review, itís hard not to compare games in this genre to Tetris. Puzzlers seem to thrive on solid game mechanics and their soundtracks. I don't know if I ever will be able to hear any of the three original Tetris songs and not immediately know where they are from. The enjoyment of every puzzle game that I've played since has been dependent on the quality of their soundtrack. Chime was something I have been interested in for some time because of the promise of a unique audio experience. The verdict is that they are correct. The gameplay directly corresponds to the music, and so I was constructing more intricate music as I played. The complexity is directly related to the spacing and speed that I placed blocks around each level. This is really interesting because I really felt as if I was making music. Even with myself playing it pretty poorly, I got great satisfaction out of how they implemented the audio. My problem is that there are only 10 tracks available for this version of the game. And while more content is planned as future DLC, it doesn't seem to be enough variety, especially when some of the genres included aren't exactly my cup of tea. I still need to stress that the audio is truly the game's best quality and wanted to start off by saying nice things before getting into the flaws.

Modes, Levels, & Grids ... Oh My!
The two main modes to select from are Timed Mode and Free Mode. During Timed Mode, there is a set amount of time provided to fill up a uniquely shaped grid. Free Mode simple does away with any time limit and allows infinite play without any stress. I probably would have preferred to play the Free Mode more but the Timed Mode is needed to access more tracks/levels. Basically each of the 10 audio tracks available has their own level that consists of 5 different grids to fill. Once a grid is filled completely, the next grid is provided. If 50% of the first grid is filled during Timed Mode, the next track/level is unlocked. I never failed to unlock a stage while playing on the 9 minute setting. It would have been harder if I were to have played on either the 3 or 6 minute setting which are there for those who want the challenge, although I decided not to use these so I could unlock all the tracks.

The game tracks your progress through each level in terms of the percentage of grids completed. If I were to have gotten through the first grid and half way through the next, then I would have obtained 150% of that particular level. This was an interesting way for them to organize the progress, but I found the gameplay too challenging to ever get to 200%, let alone the 500% mark of completing a level within the time limit. The better I played the game, the more time bonuses were provided to extend the time limit. I never felt as if I improved during my time playing, and this was disturbing. After unlocking everything, I went back to play earlier stages in a hopes that I could throw together everything that was learned, but I barely got any further than I did originally.

Besides the unique music and the grid shapes for each level, there are also different shaped puzzle pieces. I think this is where most of the problem existed when trying to get better at the game. Unless I practiced on a single stage with a single set of pieces, I wouldn't get better at playing this game. This requires me to listen to the same music over and over if I wanted to get better and this ends up being a huge flaw in trying to feel accomplished at the end of the day. This revelation is what made me want to play the least amount of this game in order to write this review. This is the only time I feel as if the variety of a puzzle game has contributed to my feelings of dislike for the game.

Solving the Puzzle
The problems don't end with the difficulty and the changing set of puzzle pieces. The puzzle portion of the game is rather boring. You have already heard me talk about the different grids that I was tasked at filling up and the different sized pieces that were to be used, but the gameplay itself was aggravating and uneventful. The plan was to place pieces on the grid to fill up 3x3 or greater areas. These areas (called "quads") could be rectangular (e.g. 3x10) or square (e.g. 4x4), and the game offers some time to build them up to pretty large sizes. Where I felt limited was that there was a bar that would pass over the screen and a pace had to be maintained in order to continue building these areas up. If the bar passes over a quad that hasn't been increased in size it will lock it in place and the grid under the quad will be colored in. So, the main objective is to color in the entire grid, which is not the same as simply filling it with blocks.

Due to my skill level, I was never able to produce very large quads, and the quads that I did produce usually had pieces sticking out beyond the colored in areas. These remainder blocks could be used to color in more of the grid if they were used to make more quads. However, if allowed to sit around for too long, they would disappear and take away the multiplier that was helping to provide time extensions. Ultimately it was the time limit that made me dislike the core concept of this puzzler.

My Final Thoughts
I really wanted to like Chime Super Deluxe. It has many great ideas that aren't quite there for the quality of puzzle games that I find myself being attracted to. There were some local player versus and co-op modes where up to four friends can play locally. I wasn't able to get into that due to lack of local friends with time in their busy schedules to play with. I loved most of the music in the game, and even the tracks that I didn't enjoy 100% were still good because of the unique audio mixing game mechanic. I just can't get over how bland the game feels after playing for hours. The musical component made it relaxing, the time limits made it stressful, and the puzzle game play made it forgettable. I wouldn't mind playing this game again when I have a few friends over. However, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless some sizable DLC appears.

Developed by ZoŽ Mode, Chime Super Deluxe is a PlayStation 3 title available on the PlayStation Network. The title is available digitally in the PlayStation Store for those who live in North America or Europe. I played this game for 3 hours, making my way through the entirety of Timed Mode and practicing a little afterwards in an attempt to get better, prior to writing this review.

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