Game Over Online ~ Chain Reaction

GameOver Game Reviews - Chain Reaction (c) BapSoft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Chain Reaction (c) BapSoft
System Requirements Palm OS v3.5+, 71K of RAM
Overall Rating 78%
Date Published Monday, April 22nd, 2002 at 06:37 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Grid-based puzzle games are all the rage on the Palm platform. I recall quite fondly when we, at Game Over Online, launched our PDA section, one of the first Palm reviews was the game Bejeweled. It follows that Bejeweled still continues to be on my colleague's PDA and it remains a bestseller on many handheld software e-tailers. Chain Reaction is a grid-based puzzle game from publisher and developer BapSoft, but each subsequent BapSoft release is increasingly more thoughtful than before.

The whole concept of Chain Reaction involves you trying to match iconic shapes of three, and only three, together, in either vertical or horizontal arrangements. To do so, you manipulate the rows and columns of the playing field in order to align them together. It's a slightly different spin on existing grid-based games. You don't manipulate the individual pieces so much as you move the entire row/column of icons, so the effect is not unlike what happens on slot machines. Once you eliminate the three icons, others will come and take its place.

Of course, the moniker of this game plays into effect when you make a move that will cause multiple arrangements of threes to disappear. And there is a general impetus for this to happen. On each level, you can only manipulate the rows/columns for a certain amount of times. Once you run out of these moves, the level ends and the game is over. The difficulty comes in later levels when the number of moves is fewer and the triumvirates you are looking for do not come as easily. The penalty is quite harsh though. Once you lose a level, you don't have any lives or credits to replay it and must start from scratch. Moreover, while the game saves your puzzle when you leave the application, you're unable to save at the beginning of a tough level to circumvent potential death.

Like with all BapSoft titles, the color versions far outstrip with what can be achieved in monochrome. With most of the new Palm OS devices opting for color, I think that should really become the standard. But for those with slightly dated Palm devices, Chain Reaction still works in black and white. Every subsequent game features prettier icons to deal with and the use of a diverse palette makes it easy to view under direct sunlight as well as on the new brighter Palm handhelds (NR-70V, m130, m515). The audio is slightly more proactive in this edition, due to the cascading chain reaction effects.

Chain Reaction comes with some obligatory functions of Palm OS game including beaming an unregistered copy to your friend's handheld as well as quick access to mute the game in discrete situations. These used to be merely features that were introduced by those developers who were in vogue or sophisticated, but I think it's safe to expect them as a standard from each and every Palm OS developer. Its price of $10 USD is fair and low enough these days, considering premium PDA game titles can go for as much as $40 USD. It's a no frills title of which it would have been nice to see a hint function or some way to extend the longevity of the game. More options to configure the difficulty level, add certain number of lives/credits or save games would have been helpful aids to the player. As it stands though, Chain Reaction is an engaging puzzle title. Its namesake and style of play presents a game that is less static and more fluid than other comparable titles.

[08/10] Addictiveness
[15/20] Gameplay
[11/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[02/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[11/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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