Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Eets Review

Eets, developed and published by Klei Entertainment.
The Good: Distinctive and refreshing graphical design, puzzles require thinking but aren’t unfair, lots of different puzzle components, extremely high replay value for a puzzle game, level editor
The Not So Good: Some puzzles only have one solution
What say you? A joyful style and interesting mechanics result in one of the most original puzzle games in quite a long time: 7/8

There are many types of puzzle games. One of the more famous types involve safely guiding characters through the level to the exit, the most famous example being the Lemmings series. I recently reviewed one of these games, Tiny Worlds, and we’re about to do another, Eets. In Eets, you guide a character (Eets) through the level to a puzzle piece, using the objects on the map and those given to you to place. It’s a lot better than I made it sound. See what I mean by “poorly written?” And short, too.

Eets features some of the most inventive and best looking 2-D levels for a puzzle game. All of the objects in the game are animated (and hilariously so), including the dynamic backgrounds. The overall cartoon feel of the game shines through all of the artwork. The objects are detailed yet sharp. Although each object only has one animation associated with it, it’s still funny the 73rd time around (at least to me, but, then again, I have the mentality of a 3rd grader). The sound has the same level of excellence. The background music is good, and the sound effects are even better. When a Superpig shoots out of the butt of a Sneezy Sow and says “Freedom!” that sums up the whimsical sound of Eets pretty well. Like with the graphics, almost every object in the game has a funny sound associated with it. Both the graphics and the sound of Eets are top rate

Eets features around 100 puzzles divided into seven areas. Each new area comes with a set of 3-5 tutorials that show what each newly added puzzle piece does in the game. I like the way that Eets slowly brings all of the elements together as the game progresses. Far too often in puzzle games, all of the game mechanics are presented from the beginning, which cuts down on the replay value. Eets introduces several new things at a time, prolonging the player’s interest in the game. Once you go through the linear tutorials, you can then you can choose from a large list of puzzles to continue through the game. Luckily, you don’t need to beat each level to unlock the next set, because inevitably you’re going to run across some levels that make no sense to you. If the game’s 100 puzzles aren’t enough, there are over 70 custom, user-made puzzles available through the official site, and a “puzzle pack” featuring these user made creations is planned for easy downloading.

Most puzzle games scream “OVER 5,824 LEVELS,” but that doesn’t matter if each puzzle is repetitious and boring. Luckily, that is definitely not the case in Eets. The basic premise of the game is to guide Eets from its starting location to the puzzle piece. The emotion of Eets will determine what he does at a ledge: happy is a normal jump, angry is a far jump, and scared is no jump. In addition to changing the emotions of the main character, there are a good 20 objects in the game, each of which does different things to manipulate Eets, the level, or each other. I’m going to go through each one of them for two reasons. One, it makes the review look longer. And two, it gives you an idea of the unrivaled flexibility of the game. Ready? Here we go.

  • Marshmallow Buds change Eets mood when it eats them
  • Alien Gravity Bud flips gravity
  • Giant Marshmallows can be eaten by angry Eats to become happy, or pushed around
  • Balloon Marshmallows will float away when exposed to light
  • Exploding Giant Marshmallows will explode when dropped
  • Prankster Whales suck up and launch objects (including Eets)
  • Choco Clouds can shoot out chocolate chips if you place a Choco Pump on. Getting hit by chocolate chips make Eets engry, eating chochlate chips makes Eets happy
  • Ejection Carts roll around and eject stuff upwards>
  • Bomb Carts roll around and explode
  • Sneezy Sows shoot out superpigs when hit or startled by an explosion, (which fly then explode)
  • Ginseng Factories shoot out radioactive ginseng to light Ginseng Lights
  • Reflectors change the direction of flying objects
  • Static Lights are permanent lights that can inflate Balloon Marshmallows. Eets will be scared with no light and will fall off ledges if they can’t see
  • Marshomechs will hit anything nearby when activated
  • Bob makes everything float upward for a limited time
  • Emotion Platforms change the emotion by Eets walking across it

See how many things can be involved in one puzzle? And it made the review a lot longer. Hooray! Each of these objects comes with a tool tip that explains what they do, in case you forgot. As you can tell, there are so many objects in the same it makes replay value very high. With each puzzle, a hint can be given, which will usually show where one component is supposed to go to get you on the right track. There is no penalty for using the hints (other than feeling slightly bad about it), and the hints are generally pretty good. Normally when first seeing the hint, I’ll say: “Why did they do that?” And then two minutes later: “Oh, that’s why they did that.” Some puzzles have only one solution, and finding this solution may become frustrating. Thankfully, between the hint and the fact that you can skip over a number of levels, you can pretty easily move past the more challenging affairs. Complicating the solutions is the physics of the game. Since all objects bounce off other objects, the rate at which you fire chocolate chips (for example) can radically change the outcome of the level. So, you could have the correct solution but not realize it until you get your aiming under control.

Eets is a very solid puzzle game and one of the best I’ve played in quite a while. The sheer number of puzzle elements and their cartoon quality makes Eets a very distinctive title. The challenge is definitely there, but the game never seems unjust. A lot of puzzle games bore me several minutes in and become too repetitive, but not Eets: the game captured my attention through its variety. And not many games make me chuckle (and sometimes chortle) as much as Eets does. At $20, this game is a bargain for anyone who has any inkling of playing a puzzle game. The flexibility of the game engine and components can (and has) resulted in some pretty interesting puzzles. Eets can be more challenging than other puzzle games due to the amount of content, but it’s well worth it.