I’d read about One Big Game in EDGE this month, and it was a great idea - kind of a developer-led version of Child’s Play with a more significant UK presence, and where funds are donated from game sales themselves rather than only from related activities.
So, I was keen to see what their first game Chime was like, produced by Brighton-based Zoë Mode. At first glance it appears to be a hybrid of Tetris and Lumines, and undoubtedly shares a lot of visual and gameplay styles from those games, but actually it brings plenty to the table on its own too. And in fact, it’s actually channeling Qix very strongly as well, since the main aim is to achieve ‘coverage’ of the board through quads rather than keeping it clear (although not leaving fragments behind is important for scoring efficiency). The use of 5-section blocks (rather than 4 as in Tetris, and square shapes with coloured sections in Lumines) adds a number of extra variations, and because there’s no gravity you have a lot more flexibility in placement, which seems like it would be too easy but isn’t at all.
The musical element is great too. Lumines of course did the sweeping track marker first, with musical triggers on completed sections etc, but Chime takes it up a notch; while it uses the same idea, the music adapts a lot more fluidly and naturally via a number of variables - normal blocks encourage certain elements of the track, different shaped quads trigger different sounds, and the music itself morphs as more of the board is covered. It’s great, quite soothing in an ambient / chillout way (the complete opposite of the ‘jumping Mexican coffee bean’ level in Lumines).
The one potential downside is that there aren’t that many levels. But, this is one of those games where you can play and replay the same levels anyway and still have fun, and regardless there’s a couple of factors which make it a non-issue anyway - the price (a mere 400 points or £3.40), and the fact that most of the proceeds go to charity. That just can’t be argued with. I actually prefer the game to Lumines anyway, which was considerably more mercenary, nickel-and-diming you for certain play modes which was pretty underhand.
I’m disappointed that Microsoft are still taking their 30% cut on this though. The legal pages on the game set out how the game revenue is split for charity, and it’s clear that the 30% Microsoft tax remains - surely they could have reduced or waived that to let more go to charity? The developers are donating over 80% of the remaining 70% to children’s charities (works out at 60% of the whole purchase price).
This could have been 800 points and I still would have bought it. My wife loves it too, being a big Lumines fan - and I like it for her because I don’t have to listen to the Lumines Mexican bean track any more. 😉
I highly recommend it to you if you have a 360, and I hope they port it to other platforms too to maximise their revenue from it (and maybe one of the other publishers will shame Microsoft into dropping their 30% charge). Here’s the launch video for the game, which probably oversells the ‘club scene’ element a tad, but there we go 😉