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Joseph Rositano
30 Oct, 2007

Honeycomb Beat Review

DS Review | Not as sweet as we had hoped.
Some of the DS’ most popular puzzle games have had addictive, yet simple gameplay. Tetris DS obviously only has players create lines by rotating shapes while Meteos, has players ‘launch’ blocks into space. While Hudson’s Honeycomb Beat follows this formula, it unfortunately doesn’t have the same depth.

Honeycomb Beat’s concept is quite clever. Essentially, there is grid of hexagonal tiles that have a different colour on each side. Using the stylus, you need to flip (or ‘beat’) each tile so that they are the same colour. The game’s challenge comes from the connection between each tile – when you beat a tile, all the surrounding tiles will also flip, changing their colours in the process. Because of this, often you’ll be left with a single tile that is the wrong colour, so the emphasis is on planning out which tiles you should flip and in what order. Additionally, there are special tiles called vector labels that will either flip all the tiles in a particular row, or only flip a single tile.

The game features two different gameplay modes: Puzzle and Evolution. Puzzle mode is the meat of the game and features 200 different puzzles for players to complete. Each puzzle has a unique grid and a different number of tiles that need to be flipped. Aside from the basic premise of the game, players will also have a limited number of beats they can use per puzzle, but there is no time limit so you aren’t pressured into randomly flipping tiles. Unfortunately, the first 60 or so puzzles are very basic and feel a lot like tutorial levels as they only require you to beat three or four tiles. Once you get to the latter puzzles, the difficulty level does increase as the puzzles begin to utilise the vector labels.

  
Don't be fooled, the puzzles get a lot more difficult.

Don't be fooled, the puzzles get a lot more difficult.
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Evolution mode is Honeycomb Beat’s equivalent to Tetris. Lines of hexagons slowly move upwards and begin filling the touch screen and it’s your task to clear the lines before the screen is full. Because Evolution mode has more focus on getting rid of lines rather than being careful of the way you use beats, it is faster paced and requires different strategies. As you move on to higher difficulty levels, the game starts making you clear multiple lines at the same time to score more points and increase the time it will take for the hexagons to reach the top. That said, after discovering a few basic strategies, it is possible to complete the higher difficulty levels by clearing single lines at a time. At the end of each level, you’ll also be allocated a rank which supposedly compares your line-clearing abilities to that of an animal such as a jellyfish or a fly.

As a little incentive to complete all the game’s puzzles and challenges, players are awarded unlockable content, including new backgrounds, music, visuals (the image displayed on the top screen) and colours for the hexagons. There's nothing overly special but it does provide you with enough options to make the game feel fresh, if, for example, you get tired of listening to the same music or if you would simply prefer red hexagons over blue.

Visually, Honeycomb Beat is neatly presented but doesn’t go the extra mile to make it stand out from the crowd. You’ll spent much of your time focused on dull, two-toned hexagons, but to be fair, the game’s design doesn’t really need a lot visual flare. The display on the top screen is a little reminiscent of the visualisers in Windows Media Player, but once again, you’ll rarely marvel at it since your focus is on the hexagons. Music is fairly decent and consists of various techno tunes, but it can get a bit tiresome after a while as they all sound similar. It’s also a bit of an annoyance that the same song is looped and never changes unless changed in the configuration menu.

  
The background is set under the ocean, and the grid resembles a fish. How nice.

The background is set under the ocean, and the grid resembles a fish. How nice.
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Overall, Honeycomb Beat is a fairly basic puzzle game. There are only two different gameplay modes, minor unlockable content and a lack of any multiplayer support. While there is challenge in the game’s puzzle mode, the game lacks any real depth and there just isn’t much on offer that you can’t find in other puzzle games for the DS.
The Score
Although we’ve seen examples in the past where simple concepts have made great puzzle games, Honeycomb Beat just doesn’t go the distance to provide an exciting experience.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/10/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
Publisher:
  Red Ant
Genre:
  Puzzle
Year Made:
  2007

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