Puzzler Offers Family Fun For All Ages
Galactic Express is the third in a series of similar-styled, family friendly puzzle games, with Puzzle Express and Ocean Express being its predecessors. The gameplay has been improved pretty significantly across the releases while maintaining the core mechanic of grabbing differently colored tiles and placing them together to reach the highest score.
The puzzle mechanics in this game are indeed addicting. A row of pieces appears on the bottom of the screen and it’s up to you to rotate and set them appropriately on the ship to gain maximum points.
You’re given two modes in which to flex your multi-colored brick muscles, a casual one and the timed delivery mode. Both modes play incredibly close to one another, but in the casual game you’re trying to fill a progress meter similar to the main mode of Bejeweled or pretty much any other puzzle game of note, and the row of pieces you use doesn’t move, plus a convenient reshuffle pieces option is available for use. In the delivery mode, however, you’re given a time limit to meet a specific score goal with the added bonus of the pieces moving on a conveyor, so it’s more similar to the arcade or action gameplay of most puzzlers.
In both modes, each piece you have access to has a specific value attached to it, normally the larger it is, the more it’s worth to your overall total needed to complete a level. Setting the most suitable piece, however, is not the only way to accumulate points with there being bonuses for filling entire sections of the ship in individual colors for a small bonus, or an ever-increasing bonus for setting pieces of like color next to one another or even setting special, more difficult to place blocks that are worth significantly more points than any of the other pieces at your disposal. Filling every single spot in the ship with no gaps gives a hearty perfection bonus, which helps meet goals significantly.
During the delivery mode you’ll be rated on your performance in each level and given tokens with which you can purchase power ups, these being Fill Single (extremely helpful), Add Time and a temporary Profit Multiplier. Progression in either mode will make new pieces become available for use. They’re usually more difficult to place but, as aforementioned, are worth more points. Another idea to note is that as the player surpasses level after level, the bonuses attached to mechanics like the color touch or perfection bonus double, triple, etc., over time, helping the player reach the higher, more difficult goals placed before them.
The graphics in this game are nothing spectacular, but are functional without getting in the way. The colors of the pieces are vibrant and attractive enough that there should never be a need to wonder what’s happening on-screen. The backgrounds likewise look fine and are even animated for aesthetic appeal. Colorful pops and flashes occur in connection to gameplay and the accompanying sound effects let the player know exactly what is going on. The music is pleasant, but does get repetitive after a while. One annoying thing is that when the shipping goal is met, in very large text, ‘SHIPPING GOAL MET’ appears on-screen and can be a hefty obstacle to setting a piece in the right spot while trying to maintain an ever-increasing color touch bonus, since the aforementioned bonus is cumulative. A signal tone or a notification in the corner of the screen outside of the play area would have been much preferred than giant text that interrupts gameplay.
Overall, the levels are pretty similar throughout the game, with little variety, but occasionally you’ll come across a level that resembles Pac Man eating a couple dots or a space invader, which a great Easter egg.
To summarize: Galactic Express is a simple but addicting little puzzler. It’s suitable for all age groups and available at a relatively small cost, so it can be a great game to entertain yourself and children with on a lazy afternoon. The visuals are clean, simple and crisp, easily recognizable to players, and the music is tolerable if fairly repetitive.
All in all, Galactic Express is a solid puzzle title that should appeal to children, and children of all ages. Make this one a special delivery to your PC.