Here at NintendoLife we’re constantly surprised by the steady stream of puzzle titles released on the DS; rarely a month passes without a new game appearing on the shelves hell bent on exercising your flagging grey matter. The DS touch screen interface is undoubtedly well suited to the puzzle genre and has allowed many developers to create more intuitive and addictive pieces of software than was previously possible with the traditional d-pad and buttons setup.
It’s unsurprising then that many developers previously undistinguished in the genre have attempted to jump on the puzzle bandwagon; Honeycomb Beat is Bomberman creator Hudsonsoft’s attempt to tap into this vibrant market. From the title one would quite reasonably assume the game features some kind of musical interaction, as fellow genre classic Lumines does so proficiently. Sadly, this isn’t the case – the ‘beat’ of the title refers to tapping a six-sided tile with your style in order to change its colour. The core gameplay revolves around altering a grid full of tiles to the same hue; flipping one will affect all adjacent tiles. This is obviously a game that requires you to think a little before rushing in.
Honeycomb Beat features two play modes – ‘Puzzle’ and ‘Evolution’. The first mode presents you with a grid that you must successfully change to one unified colour. You’re given a set number of flips - or ‘beats’, if you will – to achieve this. Early on the limit is quite generous and you’re unlikely to be troubled too much but on later puzzles it takes real skill to successfully complete each level within the given number of beats; if you purchase this title you should probably be prepared to spend a lot of time staring at the screen in complete befuddlement. Thankfully, when you do eventually crack a stage the sense of achievement is immense.
‘Evolution’ is more akin to Tetris. The grid is constantly moving and you have to eliminate tiles by flipping them to a different colour. This is arguably more fun if you’re a fan of the aforementioned Russian classic, as it requires a bit less thinking and relies more on reactions and instinct.
Both modes contain unlockable content such a different backgrounds, tunes and animations. The visuals package on display here is best described as workmanlike – it’s not ugly but isn’t really attractive either; there are certainly much better looking puzzle titles on the DS. The music is also rather average, with very few standout tracks.
Honeycomb Beat is certainly an interesting game, but like so many puzzlers we’ve seen over the past few years, it doesn’t contain enough content to keep you interested. The hook of the game is fairly strong but lacks the instant appeal of Meteos and Tetris, and as we’ve already mentioned those of you that prefer fast-paced puzzle action to the more cerebral kind are likely to be disappointed. Like Polarium, Honeycomb Beat is a game that requires a lot of thought (in puzzle mode, at least); just wading in and tapping the screen with gay abandon will get you absolutely nowhere. It really depends on what kind of experience you favour.
It’s unlikely to set the sales charts alight and lamentably trails the North American release by quite a few months, but Honeycomb Beat is yet another worthy addition to the vast pool of excellent DS puzzlers currently available in the UK. If you’d like to give your brain a workout but find Nintendo’s ‘Brain Training’ series too gimmicky, this might just fit the bill.