Reviewed: December 1, 2002
Reviewed by: Mark Smith
In the world of video games there just aren’t that many puzzle games available, and when it comes to the GameCube there are even less. Kemco attempts to address this shortage by introducing a new style of puzzle game to follow in the footsteps of Tetris Worlds and ZooCube.
Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness takes the basic premise of Tetris and turns it upside-down, or at least inverts it. In Tetris your goal was to create solid lines out of falling shapes to make them disappear and keep your playing field as open and low to the bottom as possible. In Eggstreme Madness your goal is just the opposite. You still have falling shapes but you must now carefully place them to create solid lines to build a tower. Any gaps in your structure create instability that could cause your tower to collapse. Your ultimate goal is to build the safest tower in the shortest time, as you are racing another “Eggite” to the top where a hot air balloon waits to fly you to safety and the next level. Oh, did I mention that there is a constant rising water level that is pursuing you from the bottom.
Eggstreme Madness has these features:
Eggstreme Madness is designed to be one of those pick-up-and-play games for both kids and adults. While you might be able to say that about a game as simple as Tetris, this title is significantly more challenging than that. Even after the nice tutorial I was still not totally comfortable with the rules of the game.
The premise is as simple as Tetris. Randomly shaped blocks fall from the sky. You control a little Eggite who runs around and catches these pieces. You can then move him around to position them exactly where you want. The trick here lies in the fact that you can conceivably create a wall high enough in the middle of the playing field that you cannot jump. This means you have to build steps to get over that wall to catch some of the pieces and even out the structure.
Just like in Tetris your goal is to create solid lines but now it’s for an entirely different reason. Instead of solid lines vanishing they lock in to create a stable foundation for your tower. Gaps in the structure create unstable elements and your “wobble meter” indicates just how precarious your position is at any given time. The more gaps and the lower they occur in the foundation, the more likely your entire tower will come crashing down around you.
Your goal is to reach your buddy who is waiting for you in the hot air balloon high above. The height of this balloon is based on the difficulty and current level you are playing. Naturally, the higher he floats the more tower you have to build to reach him. To keep you motivated the designers have also created a flood situation with a constantly rising water level. While the floodwaters generally rise much slower than you are building, one good tower collapse can put you dangerously close to the waterline.
But you aren’t just racing natural disasters. There is another Eggite on the other half of the screen who is racing you to his own buddy in his own balloon. Even if you are playing the single player game you are still racing against a computer opponent and these guys are good. In an ingenious bit of game design both Eggites can engage in a bit of combat and sabotage while they build their towers. Random objects such as bombs, hammers, and other power-ups will fall from the sky. You can toss these into the other player’s playfield and blow-up chunks of their tower or even attack the other Eggite with lightning. Even more fun is that your opponent can pick up and throw bombs right back at you if they are fast enough.
There are also power-ups that help the lucky Egg who manages to pick them up. Boots give you better jumping ability and more speed while the Filler (trowel) can fill in up to six gaps below you. This is a great power-up for an unstable tower.
Eggstreme Madness offers several game modes including Solo, Tournament, and Bomb. You can also choose your skill level ranging from “Over Easy” to “Hard Boiled”. The only problem here lies in the fact that you are going from one extreme (or should I say eggstreme) to the other. The easy mode can be finished in about 20-30 minutes and the hard mode will probably scare off all but the most fanatical puzzle players.
Eggstreme Madness is definitely a kid’s game. The visuals are bright and cheerful and the character designs are imaginative, even if they are all based on eggs. The villain who resembles a devil egg…get it…”deviled egg”…bwaahahahaha…err..sorry…is one of my favorites and they are all well animated in their cutesy little opening movie.
There are nearly a dozen imaginative environments that include wonderful painted backgrounds and unique block graphics to go with the theme of the level. The special effects such as the lightning zap or the explosions from the bombs or crumbling effect of the hammer smash are all excellent.
Admittedly, the overall visual presentation is nothing that will shock or amaze you. It certainly doesn’t begin to tax the power locked within the GameCube, but then again, this is a puzzle game and when you stack it up against it’s peers you will find it is one of the more visually pleasing puzzle games you can play on any system.
The soundtrack is a mix of charming tunes that are perfectly matched to the levels in which they play. You get spooky tunes for the haunted house level and circus music for the circus level. The Arabian Nights level has some authentic Persian sounding instrumentals and the prehistoric level has some thumping caveman drumbeats. It all adds greatly to the overall experience.
There is a modest library of sound effects including the zap of lighting, the “thunk” of a shape slamming into place, the splash as your Eggite falls into the water, and many more. Nothing really stood out but nothing was missing either.
Just how much game time are you going to get for your $40. As with any puzzle game, the potential is limitless so your time will vary based on how much you enjoy the gameplay. You can play through each of the Eggite’s single-player “adventures” in 30-minutes or less on the easy level or 45-60 minutes on hard. Of course the true value lies in the multiplayer portion of the title which begs the question, “Why isn’t there four-player support?” Tetris Worlds had it so you almost expect it in a similarly styled puzzle game.
Personally, I had my fill of Egg Mania after about two hours, and while there is some inherent value left in the multiplayer modes, most of the people I play with and against would rather play one of the many other multiplayer games I have for the GameCube.
Of course that’s just me and your kids may love this game to death. Just keep in mind that the gameplay is repetitive and even though a dozen levels may sound like a lot you will start seeing the same thing over and over and hearing the same music and sounds over and over all too quickly. I’d highly recommend you rent this game first, and if you aren’t sick of it by the end of the rental period then go buy it.
Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness is an original spin on an established puzzle concept. The addition of a story with cute little egg-creatures is appealing and will certainly grab the kid’s attention, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these eggs turn up on a new Nickelodeon series next year.
Like any other puzzle game, your gameplay is limited by the game design itself and it’s all too easy to get bored with solving the same puzzles over and over no matter how cute the characters and how colorful the environments. Played in small doses, you will have a great time, and while four-player support would have made it a great party game, the two-player mode will only let you beat-up on one sibling at a time. Give it a try, but rent before you buy.