Monday, October 22, 2007

Narobiyu Review

Narobiyu, developed and published by Balázs Buri.
The Good: Original gameplay, fast pace, nice graphics for the genre, cheap
The Not So Good: No multiplayer
What say you? A simple premise makes this puzzle game unique and quite addictive: 7/8

I’ve been reviewing less and less puzzle games recently, mainly because they have become all the same (how many times do I need to play a match-three game?), but I’m up for a unique idea. The puzzle genre has spawned some distinctive titles, from Tetris to Lumines. Both of the aforementioned titles have very simple mechanics and highly addictive gameplay, something you look for in a quality puzzle title. Narobiyu is hoping to be one of those games, taking straightforward gameplay and elevating it to the upper pantheon of puzzle greatness.

The graphics and sound of Narobiyu are very reminiscent of Lumines, which is a good thing. The game has a very clean look to it, with brightly-colored blocks and dynamic backgrounds that don’t obscure the action. I like the graphical style of the game and it fits the genre well. The music is along the same lines, with an upbeat tempo appropriate for this kind of game. The graphics and the sound of Narobiyu are both pleasing on the eyes and ears.

Narobiyu effectively takes a straightforward, innovative idea and creates a fun, entertaining, and addictive game. Here is how the game works: you must connect two blocks of the same color by tracing the connection with your mouse (or keyboard, but the mouse makes it a lot easier). Each time you make a connection, the next connection of the same color must be exactly one block longer. Once you make three progressively longer connections of the same color, they disappear from the board. Normally, you will start out with a two block connection (two adjacent blocks), then a three (with one differently colored block in the middle), and then a four. While the blocks are being removed, you can make additional connections for bonus points. You can do a run of connections with more than one color at once, but its much easier to focus on the same color so you don’t lose track on which length you need next. If you make an incorrect connection, it turns grey and can’t be removed except with a bonus. The gameplay is simple once you learn the nuances; it took me a couple of tries to get it right (there is no tutorial) but once I did, Narobiyu was quite enjoyable. Watching the gameplay video shows how Narobiyu is played if my description didn’t make any sense (likely).

The standard game mode is the usual increasing speed mode present in most puzzle games like this, but you can also play for a short period of time in the time trial mode. I would like to see more customization options in the time trial mode (such as length and starting level), though. Narobiyu is a very fluid game and helps you out: the game pauses for several seconds if a column reaches the top to give you a chance to eliminate some blocks in specific areas. The gameplay is repetitive but it’s still fun as the difficulty slowly ramps up with additional colors and faster scrolling. Narobiyu takes a unique concept and executes it well, resulting in an engaging puzzle game.

Innovation is hard to come by these days in the puzzle genre, but Narobiyu comes up with a unique change that makes it memorable and enjoyable. You really need to play the game with a mouse, but the controls are straightforward and smooth. The graphics and sound are good for the genre and create a nice gaming atmosphere. Although the gameplay is somewhat repetitive, the difficulty ramps up fast enough to keep you interested for the duration. Plus, Narobiyu has that addictive “one more game” feel to it. Anyone remotely interested in puzzle games should definitely give Narobiyu a serious look, especially at the low, low price of $7. It is something different for the genre, and that’s to be commended.