Friday, May 16, 2008

Kongai: Helene Get (5/16/08)

The current challenge is a quick one. And the card you'll get is a good one. So, it's probably the least time you'll ever spend in order to get something that makes you happy.

Seriously, Music Bounce cranks up in difficulty right around the level 12 that the challenge mentions but levels 1 through 10 are a cakewalk. Took me like five minutes when I woke up this morning and saw that it was up.

Music Bounce is a wonderfully simple little idea, beautifully executed. The aesthetics are, perhaps, a little on the bland side but that doesn't bother me - I'm a spreadsheet player, I don't care what it looks like as long as the gameplay is compelling. And, in Music Bounce, the gameplay is very nicely done.

Basically, it's a puzzle game. You have a row of gates and clicking on them releases a ball to fly around the screen and take out any blocks that it strikes along the way. Once you clear all the blocks, you move on to the next level.

Ah, but it's not quite that easy because, as the name suggests, it's a game about tempo. The blocks you hit will regrow over time. And the gates you open are timed from 1 to 8 - every time the game cycles over a new ball is released to travel along its set path. When you hit a block, you get a musical tone so when you complete each level it's like putting together a little song.

The difficulty comes in figuring out which gates to open. And when because you'll need, sometimes, to clear away certain blocks before you can hit others. The more advanced levels take a certain sense of rythmn and timing that I, well, lack and lack badly. But the first few levels are an easy introduction to the game that shouldn't take long at all to figure out.

Your reward will be Helene. The sword swinging Amazon who finally gives me a green card to go along with my collection of green items. Along with the Scroll I picked up the other day I now have at least one item for every group. And with the impressive Helene added to my list I now have 8 out of the 20 characters to work with and at least one representative from each of those four groups. I guess it's time to start thinking about putting some decks together.

I'll try and put up a more thorough analysis of Helene - who's a card who definitely deserves it - in the fullness of time. But, for now, let me just say that there are several close-only character. Cards like Oni or Ashi who need to be up close and personal but, when they are, can take people apart. They're nice for beginners since they're relatively straight forward. But they're also nice for more experienced players because using them well against people who know how to play the range game takes a skillful hand. And of those close-onlies, Helene is by far my favorite. She might not be the hands-down best any more but she's a solid card that you'll be glad to have.

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