Wetrix: no love at first site, but love none the less

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If you thought Tetrisphere was a mind sweeper, wait until Wetrix splashes home on your N64. Wetrix is by far the most challenging 3-D puzzle fighter I’ve ever played. If you don’t have the patience or the I.Q this game will leave you soak and wet! Congratulations to Ocean for developing a game that has originality and will nearly burn all your brain cells before you master it.

Wetrix isn’t a "love at first sight" type of game, but you gradually grow more and more addicted to it. Don’t even think about trying any of the other modes until you’ve spent some quality time in the practice mode. The practice mode is a challenge in itself and you will benefit from it greatly in the long run. Here you will learn what all the randomly shaped puzzle pieces do and how to use them to your advantage. The computer will also generate natural disaster situations where bombs and fireballs drop from the sky to damage your landscape. You’ll learn how to repair these damages and build more solid and deeper walls and dams for holding water.

Here’s the basic concept of the game: You’ll control and rotate if necessary all the random puzzle pieces that fall to the landscape. The main objective is to build walls and dams to trap the rain and water bubbles on the surface. Once the rain and water bubbles fall to the landscape water will begin to drip and flow realistically from it’s source. If any water goes over the edge of the landscape it will be collected in a drain tube. If the drain tube reaches full the game is over. Sounds simple but believe me when I tell you ,"It get’s trickier."

The red puzzle pieces or "uppers" will raise the area of land they fall on. You’ll use these to build walls and dams or make repairs to damaged landscape. The green puzzle pieces or "downers" can be used to lower walls to join up smaller lakes or knock down walls that have grown to high.

Huge fireballs and bombs will fall in place of uppers and downers at random. Guide the fireballs to the largest lake on your landscape to evaporate the water. This will also lower the water level in the drain tube and help extend gameplay. However, fireballs can work against you too when you don’t use them correctly. Do not guide them where there is no water, otherwise they’ll blow holes in your landscape just like the bombs and you’ll begin to lose water. Bombs will inevitably blow holes in your landscape. Try to guide your bombs to areas of land where water has not flowed to yet or to the area where you’ll lose the least amount of water. If you purposely try to guide a bomb through a hole another bomb has made to keep it from hitting land, you’ll be hit with a "Re-Bomb" penalty where 3 bombs drop at the same time, uncontrolled, to the landscape below. Where they fall no one knows. Many times this will end your game if your world is holding lots of water.

Ice cubes begin to fall automatically after the game reaches level two and will freeze any lake they land on for a short period of time. You’ll recieve a bonus if the ice cubes land on dry land. They’ll simply vanish. Ice cubes will buy you time for a little while but when they melt the water level rises rapidly and you’ll have to work fast to build higher walls.

Which brings us to earthquakes. Earthquakes can also end the game fast, as they cause several of your walls and dams to collapse. You can control threats of earthquakes by using the green "downers" to eliminate unnecessary landscape. For example, a single wall in the middle of a huge lake is a total waste. Eliminate it to help control the earthquake indicator.

Ok, now for some good news. Rainbows and Rubber Duckys are your friends. A Rainbow will appear over the landscape when a sufficient amount of water has been accumulated. There’s no pot of gold on the other side , but while it’s there all scores will be multiplied by 10. Rubber Duckys appear when lakes reach a certain depth. There is no limit to how many Duckys that can exist in your world, but there can only be one Ducky per lake. With one Ducky in your world scores will be multiplied by two. With two Duckys , scores will be multiplied by four and so on.

Well, that’s the basic concept of the game. Once you get to the point where you don’t have to concentrate so much on what’s happening on the landscape, you’ll begin to appreciate the cool sound effects and music that help keep the suspense going. Later on in levels, you’ll encounter mystery puzzle pieces which are connected "upper" and "downer" pieces, "mines" which float harmlessly on water until the water is lost or evaporated(BOOM!), and "smart bombs" which not only evaporate water but level all your land to the ground and make you start from scratch again. (KABOOM!)

The bottom line is that the better you become at Wetrix, the more you’ll smile. The more you smile, the more you’ll want to play. The more you play the more addicted you will become. Before you know it all your other games will be collecting dust ….at least for a little while. Despite it’s plain backgrounds and pascal colors, overall Wetrix is a great game for anyone who loves a good mental challenge. I give this game 4 out of 5 GiN Gems.

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