Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Koloomn

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Electronic Theatre ImageTetris. It’s possible that every single-person in the western world knows what Alex Pajitnov’s Tetris is. Ever since it burst on the gaming scene over twenty years ago, Puzzle games and handhelds have gone hand-in-hand. This may be because the short simple nature of Puzzle games suits the  portability of handheld consoles, or that every developer wishes that they can put out a game that comes even close to recreating the astronomical sales of the original handheld puzzler. From sky-high to distinctly average, enter the PSP.

Despite a huge marketing campaign, numerous celebrity’s backing and hype to rival theElectronic Theatre Image Xbox360, the PSP is being beaten in sales world wide by Nintendo’s newest handheld, the widely loved and critically acclaimed NintendoDS, perhaps apt revenge for the now infamous SNES-CD? Although the PlayStation brand is still undeniably the worlds favourite console line, the PSP is struggling in a market mercilessly dominated by its Japanese-brethren rival. The PSP can do everything the NintendoDS can’t; it can display photos, play music, show quality videos on UMD and in MP4 and even browse the web, but one thing it cannot do, and something that the NintendoDS most certainly can, is play great, new and original games. Every week PSP owners hope and pray that they have something good to play on their super sleek handheld and are punished week-after-week by yet another “remixed” version of an old PlayStation2 game. Despite releasing some absolute tragedies, Panzer Front Ausf. B being a prime example, 505 GameStreet has brought many decent titles such as Guilty Gear Isuka, Bujingai Swordmaster and Aces Of War at budget prices to the UK PlayStation2 market. Building on the success of their home console range, 505 GameStreet are releasing Koloomn for the PSP at a slightly lower price than the competition. Considering the kind of laughable stuff that you get at full price, Koloomn has definitely got a lot to prove.

To put it as simply as possible, Koloomn plays like a strange hybrid of Zoo Keeper and Puyo Pop Fever. The player has a rectangular area filled with different coloured blocks that they can rotate, typically by 2×2 squares. In order to gain points and clear blocks the player must get four like coloured blocks together. When this occurs these blocks begin shake, and, if they are quick enough, the player can continue to add blocks to the shaking mass by rotating nearby ones. After a small amount of time the blocks PoP and disappear, giving the player points. Rotating blocks is done by pressing Square and Triangle and in order to push another line from the bottom into Electronic Theatre Imageplay you must press Circle. Your game is over in the usual way, when the blocks hit the top of the play area. Similar to Puyo Pop, chaining PoP’s together by making sure that after a PoP more blocks fall into place for a PoP combo gives extra points. Chaining also gives the player various magic blocks, including a block with an arrow that, when PoPPed, changes all the blocks in the arrows direction to the same colour as it, which, in turn, results in all of these being PoPPed. There is also a block that changes all nearby blocks to the same colour with similar effects and more which increase in effectiveness depending on the number of chains you have attained in a row. These blocks also work together meaning that you can rack up a large amount of PoPs in one turn if you put some thought into it.

Like Puyo Pop and Bust-A-Move, Koloomn matches can involve another player controlled either by the CPU or a human. In these matches your goal is to cause the other player to lose by hitting the top of the play area with blocks. In order to do this PoPs will cause white blocks to fall on the enemies in a similar way to the aforementioned puzzlers, however in Koloomn, there is more to beating your foe than simply throwing loads of blocks at them. For example, PoPPing large numbers of purple blocks causes some of your opponents similarly coloured blocks to stick together making them harder to rotate and causing up to three blocks to count as only one. PoPPing many yellow blocks hides some of the enemies’ rows and large red PoP’s enlarges your opponents’ cursor. Each colour has a different effect and adds a surprising amount of depth to the title.

The game is split into Single-Play and Multi-Play Modes. Single-Play entails a simple one-player version of the game with no opponent, Practice and a decent Tutorial. Multi-Play has several gameplay modes including Arcade Mode, CampaignElectronic Theatre Image Mode and, of course, Wireless Multi-Player. Arcade mode is a simple run through of the game in which you pick a character and play against the other available characters to achieve the High Score and Rank. Campaign Mode is very similar except you must play as Kollon and you play against the other characters in order with a bizarre silent Cut-Scene in between each match. The idea is once again to reach the end with the High Score and Rank. Predictably, Wireless Multi-Player is just a version of the game which involves two humans pitted against each other and is the perfect way to display your skills. There is also a Puzzle Mode in which you earn points and a Rank by performing tasks designated by the game. Despite every game mode being very similar, Koloomn’s basic and highly addictive gameplay mean that it’s worth playing simply as a fun way of passing the time.

2D sprites are the order of the day when it comes to graphics. Despite the PSP being the worlds most powerful handheld, Koloomn would not have been a mammoth task for the Game Boy Advance. However, considering the nature of the game, it is very possible that introducing complex 3D graphics would have killed the games simplistic, addictive character. Even for a puzzle game, Koloomn is bright and colourful and does look quite pretty on the PSP’s excellent High-Definition Screen. EveryElectronic Theatre Image character is drawn in a cutesy anime-inspired way and adds to the endearing this-is-a-game-for-everybody style of presentation. Sound is present and correct as you would expect, with few defining qualities. The music is comprised of various cheery dance tracks and the sound effects are just a collection of electronic beeps and pops. The sound quality was hardly ever going to be the selling point of Koloomn, so its good that at least it fits with the game, even if there’s not going to a be a re-mixed single of the Theme Tune released at any point in the near future.

Koloomn is a great little puzzler that adds just enough original material to make it stand out without sacrificing the pick-up-and-play system necessary to make a decent Puzzle game. Literally hours of fun can be had here, even more so if you can persuade any of your PSP owning friends to pick up a copy. Shared Multi-Player would have been an excellent addition to this game, but considering its relatively-budget price-point, this can be easily forgiven. If you really want a game to at least partly justify your owning of a PSP, then buy Koloomn, it is hours of easy harmless fun. However, considering the horsepower and cost of the PSP, it can seem a little like you’ve bought a Ferrari to do the grocery shopping.Electronic Theatre Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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