Puzzle games are one of those genres that has decreased in popularity over the years. Like fighting games, puzzle games used to be a premiere genre back in Tetris’ heyday. Now though, a constant stream of copycat games and a general lack of originality in the genre have made the genre much smaller than it once was.
With the ushering in of the 128-bit era, puzzle games have become even fewer in number. In light of the new technology, it seems that companies have been more intent in putting their money into graphical showcases that will grab public’s attention, rather than bland looking puzzle games, which will most likely be ignored by mainstream and hardcore alike.
Given the circumstances, it would seem unlikely that Kemco (a publishing studio whose biggest franchise is the Top Gear series), would release none other than a genuine puzzle game, entitled Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness. The question that arises though, is Egg Mania really worth your gaming buck? Read onward to find out.
Some games that come over from Japan carry a putrid smell of Japanese weirdness with it, and Egg Mania stinks to high heaven with it. Everything about the game is weird. First of all, you’re playing as an EGG. Yes, you read that right, those things that you crack on a frying pan and eat in the morning are now what you’re playing as.
These aren’t just plain eggs though; each one of these eggs has so much style and pizzazz it would make Elvis blush. First you have your stereotypical characters, with generic names like Coolio, Spike, and Funky, which basically represent eggs obsessed with certain types of music. Then you have your not so generic eggs. Each one of these eggs has weird names like Bebub, Yolko, and Astro, and even weirder personalities (can you say demon child?)
Beyond the game’s odd characters though, the rest of the game is pretty rudimentary. All the normal puzzle game modes are there, and the actual game closely resembles Tetris.
The key difference between Egg Mania and Tetris, and what separates Egg Mania from the rest of the Tetris clones, is that instead of trying to destroy blocks, you are instead trying to make a wall. When you’ve made a wall big enough, you then can climb to the top of it, and escape out the top of the game’s level. By doing this before your opponent does so, you will win.
Such a task is easier said than done however. Like in real-life architecture, your wall is going to need a solid base, one that doesn’t have any gaps in it. If you’re wall does have gaps, rest assured that sooner or later your wall is going to buckle under the pressure, and leave you at the bottom of the game’s abyss, while your opponent continues his trek to the top.
Think that sounds hard? You haven’t the best part yet. Constantly while you’re building your wall, your opponent will be able to lob bombs over at your wall, thus deconstructing a good chunk of what you’ve made. You’ll also have to deal with pesky things like jumping crocodiles, skeleton fish, and such, that when they pop up (which they will frequently) if you get snatched, you’ll be dragged back to the bottom of your wall, wasting precious seconds of game time.
So does this screwy game concept really work? In short, yes. The game is so well balanced, so well-conceived, and so addictive, that in no time at all, you will be so addicted to it that someone will have to threaten you with your life before you put it down.
The difficulty curve is slow, so you can nestle easily into the game’s unbelievably fun gameplay, but the truly hardcore will find the game a great challenge near the end. The game’s design also keeps you on your toes at all times. Make no mistake, Egg Mania is not for slow thinkers. Constantly throughout the game you will have to quickly think of good places for your puzzle pieces, while also keeping track of where the gaps in your wall are (so you can fill them later,), how good your opponent is doing, how close you are to the top of the level, and about a gazillion other things. The result? Egg Mania never feels tame, but more like a gruesome, yet enjoyable, test of your gaming skills.
In the midst of this great puzzle gameplay though, there are a few minor flaws. The first and most annoying is that sometimes when your opponent will throw a bomb at you (another one of the game’s many perks), is that when you go to grab it, instead of picking up the bomb you will continuously pick up puzzle pieces instead. Meanwhile, while you’re trying to get rid of these puzzle pieces, that bomb just keeps ticking away, until it finally blows up, taking a big chunk of your wall with it.
Another one of the game’s shortcomings, has to deal with the enemy AI. While for the most part the game will dish out to you fair, well-rounded, challenging enemy fire, there are a few instances where the game will revert to the much hated rubber band AI. This AI isn’t displayed much until you reach the game’s ending bosses. There, while fighting, you’ll notice that whenever you start to edge out in front of your competitor, he’ll suddenly get whatever he needs. Your walls getting too big? Boom! He suddenly gets a load of bombs to take you down. His wall has too many holes in it? Huzzah! He gets a bunch of special items to fill them up.
What this boils down to is a game that is unbelievably fun, but shrouded with a few trifling problems. Despite the fact of how annoying the two problems listed above are, the game still remains throughout the bad times.
Adding a head to this wonderful gaming brew is the game’s colorful graphics. Just like the characters are unique, the areas you’ll play in are likewise different and interesting. Ranging from weird areas like carnivals and outer space, each area’s backgrounds are just simply cool. Everything looks remarkably well-drawn, and really adds spice to an already hip gaming mix. However, the backgrounds do not have much in the form of movement. This can be seen a good and bad thing though, good in that the lack of movement won’t distract you from the actual game, bad in that it makes the backgrounds look a little lifeless compared to other’s like it.
The game does feature some rather crude CGI scenes for each egg, which are only played while the game loads. Each CGI scene looks decent in the visuals department, although each one has very little, if any, point to them.
The game’s music plays well to match the game areas. For example, when you are in a tropical setting, the game will use various Native American drums and such to complement its music.
Such difference in music styles really makes for variety, and thanks to rather innovative, fast-paced beats, that ingenuity is not put to waste. Instead, the music does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and that is keep the player motivated to keep playing the game.
In short, Egg Mania is everything you would want in a puzzle game. It’s innovative, it’s well-balanced, and it’s massive fun. Anyone with even the slightest interest in this genre should pick up Egg Mania. The cool and kooky design overwhelms its few flaws. To put it bluntly, if you like this type of game, go grab your wallet or purse, get in your car or saddle up on your bike, and get down to your local game store and buy it. Only by carrying out this mission fellow gamer, will you truly discover the beauty that is Egg Mania.