|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hudson||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 2, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Ready to give some more of your money to a handheld puzzle game? Are you considering the purchase of Honeycomb Beat? Well, the game is not as sweet as it sounds, I'm afraid. Coming up with a new puzzle game formula is certainly not easy, but the development of those kind of games is quite inexpensive and, if the game is good enough, it will generate vast profits.
Honeycomb Beat doesn't follow the Tetris recipe that everybody seems to take on nowadays; at least it presents a more imaginative concept. You'll be presented with groups of honeycombs (or hexagons), some colored in white and others in whatever other color you chose on the configuration screen. When you tap a honeycomb (this action is called "beating") the honeycombs around it and the one you beat will turn into the opposite color (white to the other color, the other color to white). Keeping this in mind, you'll have find ways to turn all of them into white panels using a limited number of beats; sometimes it's two, sometimes it's five, but you can't beat more honeycombs than the number allowed or else you'll have to start the level from the beginning. Every time you beat a stage, more stages will open around it so you can take on the next challenge. This is what happens in Puzzle Mode, which has 200 unique levels. Some stages, especially at the beginning of the game, are very easy. However, as you advance towards higher levels you'll start feeling like a dumb being, incapable of finding a solution to the puzzle. Because some puzzles are actually too challenging, you'll always have the opportunity to give up and select the next stage. Before level six the game feels effortless and non-rewarding, and after level six it makes you feel annoyed and not really entertained anymore, unless you love testing your brain and don't mind spending fifteen minutes tapping the different honeycombs on the screen hoping to find the "winning" formula.
Ten progressively more difficult yet simple levels form Evolution Mode. Evolution Mode is a continuous play mode that follows the same basics as Puzzle Mode. The main difference is that the honeycombs come from below and start climbing up the screen. Also, you don't have a limited number of beats, so you can go ahead and tap as much as you need to. As the honeycombs come up, you will have to beat them as many times as necessary in order to clear lines, never letting the groups of honeycombs surpass the top line. The more you advance, the faster they go and, obviously, the more challenging it becomes. You will have to plan your strategy and decide your moves in a fast-paced rhythm. That's probably where the name Honeycomb Beat comes from: the Puzzle Mode doesn't really follow any beat or pace, even with its background music. One could stare at the screen for twenty minutes, and it wouldn't make a difference. So now you know, if you want a challenging, fast-paced puzzle experience, Evolution Mode is your thing. We'll leave Puzzle Mode for those mathematic minds that enjoy challenging the brain till the end.
Some special hexagons appear in both Puzzle and Evolution Mode. If you beat a honeycomb with an arrow, the honeycombs placed in the direction of the arrow will flip, but not the ones around it like it happens when you tap standard pieces. One special honeycomb that contains a circle just flips itself when you tap it while everything else around it will remain the same. All this definitely adds more strategy to the simple concept of Honeycomb Beat. However, it's still not enough to make the game enjoyable and addictive.
Since Hudson wanted to follow the formula of other successful puzzle games in the market, they decided to rate your intelligence and call you "names" as well. Why is everybody so focused on telling us our brain is the size of a mouse or that it's so large it's about to pop out of our heads? Geez! Well, at least here they compare it to a mitochondria or a jellyfish, just to mark the difference Does this make you feel better though? Will it make you want to play more and more until your brain is ranked amongst the smartest? In most cases, the answer will be no. This game just doesn't have what it takes to keep you hooked and entertained. It's a good idea, it's different, and it's decent. However, it seems like Hudson forgot that video games, whether they're in the puzzle or the action / adventure category, need to be fun.
They did a good job in the visuals department, although the design is quite simple overall. You can select one of ten colors for the honeycombs that will appear when you play, as well as different backgrounds that you will slowly unlock when you advance in Puzzle Mode. A colorful, vibrant animation appears on the top screen while you play. Not that you ever really pay attention to it, but it's there to make the game more captivating, if you will. You can also select between different, unlockable animations on the configuration screen. And what puzzle game doesn't have these features nowadays? It's almost imperative to add a bunch of unlockable skins, backgrounds, etc. to keep the player interested in unlocking them all. However, the selection is rather limited in Honeycomb Beat, and I wouldn't say it's appealing enough to uphold your interest in the game.
You can open up a few music tracks as well. They're mostly disco-like beats that maintain a catchy rhythm throughout the game. A couple of the songs follow a slower beat that could put you to sleep if you're not careful. You'll feel like you're dancing a slow dance all by yourself... Unfortunately, the game only grants six unlockable tunes, so they'll eventually become repetitive. The couple of sound effects work for the game and that's pretty much all that can be said about them.
This game could have been much more fun if it wasn't so focused on imitating the others by measuring your brain aptitude. Instead, Hudson should have tried to make it more amusing, with more game modes, more bonuses and extras, and even a couple different puzzle concepts within the same game. Oh well, next time, Hudson!
CCC Co-Site Director