Numblast. . .
What is it?
Numblast is another of those Japanese Puzzle games that has recently hit the PSN and the premise is simple, rotate 4 cubes at a time until such time as you get a 2x2+ square made of the same numbers, thikn Lumines but starting with a full board and you'll get the rough idea, but more on that later.
Numblast has the expected tacky storyline that we've come to know and love from Japanese games, in this instance Choco (The guy with the wings) is researching the energy put out from Numblast cubes when they are aligned correctly when something goes horribly wrong
Akasaka (Choco's teacher) comes in just at the
moment and despite yelling at Choco to stop what he's doing, Akasaka gets hit with the full force of the Numblast energy and the magical cubes transform him into . . . something else.
A Monkey! Not just any monkey however, in a truly Japanese bat-shit crazy storyline Akasaka now has a multicoloured tail and an annoying tendency to vomit eggs from his mouth when he absorbs more energy from the Numblast cubes.
Choco must now work hard with the cubes to try and get his teacher back to his original form, and cue the title screen.
There are 3 modes to this title, Endless, Puzzle and Time Trial all do pretty much exactly what they say on the tin.
Endless mode allows the player to keep going for as long as they can, not that you can ever run out of moves, so as you progress some of the coloured blocks change colour, going from the bright shiny brick that it was into a black heavy looking stone but keeping it's original number value, get 4 of those stones together in a square and they are too heavy to be turned. You can still save the game though by matching the numbers on the black squares as per usual, if the whole screen fills with black squares, the game is over.
Puzzle mode is what you would expect of this sort of title, there are 50 puzzles to work your way through, challenging you to complete them in the smallest amount of turns as possible, the learning curve on the puzzle mode isn't too steep but by level 40 be prepared to start tearing your hair out.
Time Trial is a 3 minute run at the game encouraging you to get the highest score you can within the given limit, this is essentially done in the form of combos, say you get a 2x2 square of green blocks, they turn yellow, if there are 2 yellow nearby that would make a 2x3 shape, they will also turn and so on. It's not so easy to put into words so take a look at the following image, please note the following image was home-made and does not represent the actual gameplay.
Annoyingly, because of the way this blog is made, you need to click the picture to see the animation.
As you can see the premise of the game is fairly simple and it's this simplicity that makes it terribly addictive, the story is quirky, the graphics have a nice cartoony feel to it and the music is both fast paced but non-intrusive, this title is well worth the £3.99 price tag and you could do a lot worse than pick up Numblast.
The game has Trophy Support for those trophy lovers out there, some fairly easy to get (reach level 10, reach level 30) others are a nightmare (get a Numblast in time trial mode, get a gold award on every puzzle level)
So. . . what's wrong with it?
Not a great deal actually, the game itself is pretty well polished and sturdy, the first major downside is that the tutorial covers some of the game but not all, for example it doesn't actually explain what a "Numblast" is, for those of you wondering, a Numblast is when you manage to clear the whole screen of blocks, it is possible but bloody hard to do.
The main letdown of this game is the multiplayer, in that there isn't one, no two player mode online or offline, which is a shame as it could have been worked in so well, a high combo for player one means more black blocks for player two and so on.
The lack of multiplayer support will almost certainly cause this game to vanish into obscurity which is also a real shame as it's one of those titles that will drink away hours of your life without you even realizing it.
It should also be noted that the game is frame for frame the same on the PSP, the only real difference between the 2 is that one has trophy support and the other doesn't, sadly it still means if you want the game on both machines, it will cost you just under £8.
A surprisingly good Japanese Puzzle game, well worth the small cost but ultimatly let down by no multiplayer.
Still worth a good play for you bachelors out there.