IGN Review of Honeycomb Beat
A puzzle game doesn't need to be complicated. Heck, Tetris, the most popular and successful game in the genre's nothing but a set of four tiles that you can rotate and stack. But sometimes a concept is so simple that it's difficult to build it out into something that needs to be engrossing or addictive for it to stand on its own. Honeycomb Beat has the right stuff for a mini-game, but not nearly enough to allow it to carry itself into a full-fledged stand-alone product.
Honeycomb Beat sounds like a music-focused game like Lumines, but other than the tunes that play in the background and the visualizer that's displayed on the upper screen during challenges, the focus isn't on audio. "Honeycomb" refers to the tiles that you work with; six sided tiles. Hexagons. "Beat" makes reference to the terminology they've given to "tapping" a hexagon. The task? To flip an arrangement of honeycombs to one color by tapping them with the fewest amount of beats possible. The rules are simple: tap a hexagon, and the tile and any immediate tile surrounding it flips as well. If there's no workable tile attached, there's nothing to flip, so it's a strategy to work with the "edge" honeycombs to figure out the precise way to get all the tiles turned the same way. To add a little more strategy to the mix, there are marked tiles that'll flip all tiles in the same row over, and marked tiles that'll only flip that specific tile and that's it.
The design's segmented into two types of challenges: a puzzle mode where you get set grid structures, and an "evolution" option, which is essentially Honeycomb Beat's version of Tetris. In the puzzle mode, you simply work your way through a hundred levels of specific layout themes that teach the different mechanics of the game design. The early levels in each theme are an absolute joke that require one or two taps -- they're "filler" training levels that really shouldn't even be a part of the normal game progression. The challenge does ramp up in difficulty, and by the time you get deep into the level tree you'll be scratching your head trying to figure out how to get all the tiles arranged in the proper fashion. That is a good thing, especially for a puzzle game. It just doesn't happen soon enough.
Evolution mode simply takes the Honeycomb Beat mechanics and puts it in a design similar to the marathon mode in Polarium where the entire bin steadily climbs upwards. If it reaches the top of the screen the game ends, so it's up to the player to tap the tiles and flip them so they form a solid row all the way across. Getting one line is easy. The challenge is to learn the mechanics and see where to tap to get three lines at a time. It's not only big points to get this huge chunk, it also buys time to keep the marathon mode going. Again, a nice diversion but once you learn how to hack away at the bin one line at a time it's not entirely challenging until further into the progression when things start getting a more rapid fire pace. By that time you've seen all there is to see, and it's a matter of accepting the simplistic nature of the game's design foundation.
It's pretty clear that the designers knew they had a weak structure to work with, so they sprinkled a few unlockables throughout the game to entice players to drive forward. But they're really just backgrounds and tunes for the game. There's no wireless multiplayer mode so there isn't even that to keep players tapping away. At least Hudson made the game feel significant with an energetic production; even though all the action takes place on the lower screen the programmers added a bit of "zing" with a cool visualizer on the upper screen that gives the game's music a trippy techno club look.
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