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Review: TalisMania August 14, 2006

Posted by Jesse in : Game Reviews , trackback

Game: TalisMania
Developer: Popcap Games
Version: This is a review of the trial version of the game.
Recommendation: Try the demo

A week or so ago, I saw a message on the indiegamer forums that Popcap had just released a new game. That is always great news for me to hear, because I love a bunch of Popcap games. (Dynomite, Zuma, and Heavy Weapon being my favorites.) And since I had some time to kill while setting up my new development machine, I happily snagged the demo and got to playing. (I played in story mode.)

My first impression is that the graphics are great. I really love the way the characters look during the “cutscenes” between levels. But then, if there’s one thing Popcap is known for, it’s great looking, well polished games. Honestly, I wish their artists would do the graphics for my games.

In the story, King Midas has turned everything around him to gold, and he’s feeling remorseful. He’d now like to use his new power to benefit others. Luckily he has a staff of talented builders, and if you raise the necessary money, they’ll create buildings for the people.

Gameplay:
On the game board are two (or more) energy points, and you need to connect them by rotating them and the connector pieces that make up the rest of the game board. The connections can be made of bronze, silver, or gold. The more tiles you use in the chain to make a connection, the better your next round will be. And at the end of each level, if you’ve used enough silver and gold, you’ll get a bonus and your workers will create some especially nice buildings. As you progress to more difficult levels, you’ll have to worry about special tiles, with mythical creatures such as Medusa or minotaurs showing up. If you don’t use them as part of your chain, they’ll make life harder on you by wreaking havoc on your game board.

Between levels you’ll sometimes get to play a bonus round, where a Greek god or goddess will challenge you. If you win the challenge, you’ll win a special statue for the villagers.

What I liked:
As I said, the graphics are great. The sound is also perfect. I also enjoyed the gameplay mechanics, especially when the mythical creature tiles started coming into play.

What I disliked:
Since there’s no time limit, you can take as long as you like to try to find a perfect chain and always get a great score. This leads to a lack of difficulty since I can just win by trial and error. Guys in the indiegamer forum brought this up, and apparently that’s exactly what the Hero game mode is for. Unfortunately my time limit ran out before I thought to give that mode a try. Maybe that mode shouldn’t be locked away, or should be unlocked sooner.

Games it reminded me of:
The idea of connecting end points reminded me of games like Pipe Dream, although obviously the gameplay mechanic is quite a bit different. It also has similarities with another game I’ve played lately, called ConFuse Box.

Recommendations:
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, especially brain teasers that reward you for pouring over the board to come up with a perfect plan, this game could definitely be for you. Grab the demo and give it a go.

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