After picking up a favorable critical reception at the International Games Festival, Audiosurf has been the indie flavor of the month on Steam, and rightly so. Ostensibly it is about veering a hovercraft left and right along a race track that undulates to the beat of your chosen song and collecting colored blocks for points, but the grid that those color blocks fall into turns the game into a kind of two-tiered puzzler. Keen racing reactions are needed to collect and correctly position high-scoring blocks of the same color into groups of 3 or more (after which, as you may have guessed, they will disappear).
Game Description: As a little pirate with big dreams, Zack doesn't just have his sights set on mere treasure or spectacularly speedy pirateships; he wants to be the greatest pirate who ever lived! To reach that lofty goal, he is going to have to outwit, outsmart and outduel every obstacle that gets in his way. It's a good thing he's found his new enchanted pal, Wiki, a magical hand bell with the power to transform any object into something practical. Get ready to explore seven vibrant and fantastic lands, from lush jungles and frigid ice temples to colossal castles and floating airships. Each level contains multiple sub-levels of peril, puzzles and plunder. Play alone or as a group to work through each increasingly complex puzzle. Use the Wii Remote to navigate, open objects, transform items and unlock new pathways with a whole new variety of methods. Even boss battles are puzzle-based, so you'll need to think on your feet!
Cute. Stylish. Smart. These words are apt when referring to Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. The game melds devilish puzzle solving with a bold, stylized look and an adorable golden monkey. Although it's a mystery to me, gamers by and large seem to love monkeys. So everybody wins, right? For the most part, yes.
Game Description: The Orange Box includes all the content of The Black Box for PC, plus the original Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One. Innovative games featured in The Orange Box include Half-Life 2: Episode Two, the second installment in Valve's episodic trilogy advances the award-winning story, leading the player to new locations outside of City 17, as well as the pioneering type of single-player action game Portal, which rewrites the rules for how players approach and manipulate their environment, and Team Fortress 2—an all-new version of the legendary title that spawned team based multiplayer action games with a daring new art style features the most advanced graphics of any Source-based game released to date.
Shoot two portals onto a flat surface and walk through one to appear out the other. This reasonably straightforward game premise is destined to go down alongside "form horizontal lines to make blocks disappear" and "avoid missing ball for high score" as one of the most deviously, deceptively simple in the medium's history.
Game Description: Coming exclusively to the PSP system, Crush features an all new concept in multi-dimensional puzzle gameplay. A uniquely styled puzzle game that blends 2D and 3D graphics in an enticingly surreal environment, Crush is sure to present an addicting challenge! Puzzle your way across 40 brain-twisting levels switching perspectives from 3D to 2D to conquer your challenges. Changing your perspective on things will do more than alter your view; shift platforms and objects, activate machinery, cause immense chain reactions in the environment and overcome your enemies it's all in the power of perspective.
Crush, for all its flaws, is exactly the sort of game that the PSP needs more of. Seeing it in action for the first time is like bearing witness to a magnificent illusion--literally watching the spatial norms I've taken for granted get tossed out a window isn't something I'm going to forget soon.
An attractive-looking minimalist presentation and a craving for some good puzzle action drew me to Hudson's Honeycomb Beat, and its budget price sealed the deal. Although it started strong and seemed to hold a lot of promise, I'm not quite sure I got my $20 worth—this unorthodox puzzler fizzled out fast.
Illusions and tricks of the eye have been staples of cinematic entertainment ever since those unwitting Lumière fans thought the train was coming right for them. And of late, gaming too seems to have developed a taste for undercutting its own visual conventions and toying with players' expectations. Super Paper Mario, Haze, Portal and Okami have all dabbled with innovative ways of twisting the player's perception of the game world...
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