David Bradforth reviews Fourth Dimensions/R-Comp's first mind-taxing compilation.
Logic Mania is a compilation of four new games to the Acorn platform; one being a conversion from the PC with two based on existing themes and one original idea. All four of the games can be installed to your hard disc, but I was amazed to find that one of the games, Blindfold, would not work on my StrongARM Risc PC. The problem has now been solved, so hopefully should not arise with any versions you may buy.
Gloop is based upon PipeMania, that rather classic game requiring you to build a pipe long enough to hold the 'flooze' (or, in this case, 'gloop') as it flows around the scene. The first thing which struck me about Gloop is the plot given in the manual - it is actually quite funny. This, in itself, is the mark of a fairly good game because it shows that a certain amount of thought has been put into the game situation. Playing the game is quite simple; in all levels you have a start pipe (from which the gloop will start) and in some you have an end pipe (and if it's there, you must end there!). There are a number of bonus pipe sections, such as cross over pieces, one way pieces and so on which will give you more points should you travel through them; and there's the reservoir too which slows the gloop down. The music which accompanies the game is reasonable, with the necessary speeding up of the pace when the gloop is released; building up atmosphere and generally bringing you out in a sweat. All in all, the game does look a little less polished than PipeMania, but it is a very good implementation of the theme and well worth a look.
Flooze...sorry...Glooop. It's PipeMania with a difference...
Blindfold does, in some ways, follow the example set by games such as Repton and Rockfall in that it's a maze game with things to collect and things to avoid. However, the game is made a little more difficult because, after an initial view of the maze, you have to complete it with a picture covering over the maze itself. Although this may, for some people, make the game incredibly hard it's actually a surprisingly easy game to play. By holding down two direction keys, you can end up going through an exit where you forgot there was one, and may even finish the level as a result. The aim of the game is to reach the exit, and to do this you may need to pass through a key first [hence allowing you to pass a lock]. In the early levels, Blindfold is initially easy - by testing the control keys, you can complete a level without too much difficulty. As the game progresses, it really does tax the mind - trying to remember where the bombs (which kill you) and ice (which slows down your progress) are whilst trying to collect the 'bonuses' [such as Cash, Extra Life, and so on] is a superb way to waste time.
Today, Matthew, I shall not have the foggiest idea how to get to the stage from the back room. Sure, I'm wearing a Blindfold but why should that matter?
Atomix is a curious PC conversion involving you to create molecules in a variety of different quantities and formats; starting off with fairly simple arrangements but progressing to more complex ones. Different molecules have different 'valences', and hence can only be connected to a certain number of other molecules. The aim of the game is to complete the task set, and clear the screen before progressing to the next level. The game itself installs onto the icon bar, providing the options illustrated in the screenshot. Volume controls the overall volume of the sound effects and music within the game; Sound FX controls whether or not sound is played during the game, Music does the same; VGA display seems to make the game work in a smaller screen mode (to test our eyes as well as our logic?), RFTM Joystick allows users of the RTFM joystick to play the game using this, and Save saves the current situation. In play, the music builds up the atmosphere; with the sound effects providing short, but meaningful, bleeps and wooshes. The gameplay itself is compulsive; after you've completed the first level, the rest of them start to seem easy. They're not; however; so be prepared for a mind-taxing experience. I loved it!
Atomix also has a level editor, which allows you to produce levels to tax one another with; it's a good idea to provide editors in games such as this, because once you've done it once it does tend to get a little boring - level editors add a new dimension to the game. It's just a shame it's the only game in Logic Mania provided with a level editor.
Atom Attack...but can you get them into the right place? Even now, four years after I first played the game, I can't!
Tilt is a game which, at first glance, struck me as 'yet another' Tetris clone; but turning the base of the Tetris alley into a See-Saw; and if one end of the See-Saw touches the base of the screen you lose. Quite simply, that's what it is; but it's a lot better than it seems at first glance. I believed there was very little more that could be done with the Tetris plot, but this game is truly addictive. The aim of the game is to make lines of three (or more, in later levels) of the same object disappear. As the game progresses, it becomes more difficult due to a number of pieces already being laid onto the See-Saw; narrower balances; strange-shaped pieces (e.g. 'L' as per Tetris) and so on. I was a little disappointed at the lack of any atmosphere-building sound effects; with just a suitable boink when a piece reaches the rest of your 'construction'; and I do wonder why there's no music proclaiming the end of the level. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this game and in the two-player mode a new dimension would be added to the title.
Tetris on a Platform?
Logic Mania sets out to challenge powers of memory, observation, dexterity, reasoning, logistics and common sense and; to my mind; it does all of that and more - the 'stretching the player to the point of frustration' claim is certainly true. Perhaps more importantly, the games are of a consistently high standard and are all thoroughly addictive; should you get the time to play them.
As explained in the GamesWorld column, David Bradforth wrote this during his tenure at Archimedes World: the article was written before he had anything to do with The Fourth Dimension or R-Comp or any financial interest at all in the outcome of it.