Toronto-based developed Capybara games has been around for awhile, likely doing a bunch of stuff you might have overlooked. If you haven't heard of them, I wouldn't blame you. Maybe you've had a chance to check out the Ubisoft-published Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, or its original puzzle game Critter Crunch for the iPhone.
The latter title -- available for a measly 99 cents on the App Store -- was released over a year ago, and despite winning numerous awards, was mostly overlooked. This week, the developer will unleashed a more polished version of the game for PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title for the PlayStation Network.
It's cute, you can see that -- but is it any good? Hit the jump.
Critter Crunch(PlayStation 3/PlayStation Network)
Inspired by puzzle titles like Magical Drop and PopCap's AstroPop (and brought to you by the adjectives "cute," "cuddly," and somehow, also "gross"), Critter Crunch has player's controlling Biggs, a friendly species of animal that resides on the island of Krunchatoa. Like all animals, his goal is to survive and provide for his young, the smaller and appropriately named furball, Smalls.
Fortunately, Krunchatoa's ecosystem is thriving, and Biggs can take advantage of this by using his long, sticky tongue to help the island's animals feed off of one another. But Biggs himself doesn't feed off of the island's inhabitants, instead ingesting the jewels which they drop once exploded from over-eating. As for his offspring, Biggs then feeds the young Smalls by throwing up a rainbow of nutrients (literally) into his mouth.
While you could completely ignore him and continue selfishly snapping up jewels to fill Biggs hunger bar, you'll miss out on a significant amount of bonus points. And someone might call Krunchatoa Social Services on you, because you're a bad, bad parent.
"Challenge Mode" presents a particular set of parameters -- don't let certain "hatching" critters get eat by bigger creatures, while filling your hunger bar, for instance. These are typically, as you'd expect, extremely challenging. Go figure. "Puzzle Mode" presents you with a certain "playing field" of critters and a number of moves in which you clear the entire screen using matches, combos, and food chains.
Depending on the type of player you are, you'll either relish in these modes as an extra challenge, or find them overly frustrating or difficult. Either way, it's possible to disregard these modes entirely in the "Adventure" mode, but it's a nice addition for those who are looking for a little more.
While all of the power-ups from the single-player mode are available, there's also a handful of "attack" power-ups in competitive multiplayer. Eat a mushroom and your opponents screen will become hazy and "trippy," making it difficult for them to see the screen. Or you can drop an anvil on the opposing Biggs, making that player's controls be inversed. Regardless of your skill level, the multiplayer modes (competitive, in particular) are endlessly fun, and will likely result in sweaty palms and shouting, like any good multiplayer game should.
(Note: Critter Crunch can also be played online. I didn't have an opportunity to test the game online, as I was playing on a PS3 test unit. Provided connections are lag free, all of the above should stand for online play.)
With Critter Crunch, Capabara has designed one of the most original and endearing titles the puzzle genre has seen in years. If you've already played or own the iPhone game, know that Capybara has made enough upgrades (in terms of visuals, content, and controls) to make Critter Crunch on PSN the definitive (and simply put, much better) version.
With solid gameplay mechanics and the iconic character designs of Biggs and company, it's a game that belongs in any puzzle fan's digital library. Even if you could resist the adorable allure of Biggs, the price might stop you in your tracks. At only $6.99, Critter Crunch may very well be one of the best values in puzzle gaming you'll find this year.
Score: 9.5 -- Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)
THE VERDICT - Critter Crunch
Reviewed by Nick Chester
|8:00 PM on 02.11.2013|
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