Advanced Circuits Review
Posted by Corbie Dillard
A puzzler that keeps chugging along
There's certainly no denying that, a year in, the DSiWare service has quickly filled up with puzzlers, maybe even more than we originally expected, so the sight of yet another making an appearance isn't too surprising. The developers at BiP Media have taken a familiar formula and woven a very challenging puzzle experience around it, and while Advanced Circuits is nothing too revolutionary it's still quite fun and its intuitive controls make it easy for gamers of all ages to pick up and play.
The gameplay premise in Advanced Circuits is fairly simple, although you might want to pay attention to the tutorial screens if you're new to this type of puzzler. Your goal in each level is to connect the various sections of roadway or train tracks together so that they cover the entire grid without any type of overlapping. You'll be guiding everything from a train to a tank. Each section of the pathway can only connect on two sides of the grid it resides on, so this will force you to figure out the one way to solve each puzzle. While you'll begin the game on a small 4x4 grid, you'll soon find yourself on much larger grids where the layouts can become quite intricate and tricky. To make matters even more challenging, you'll be forced to complete the puzzles within a set time limit as well.
Connecting sections of track is as easy as dragging the stylus on the screen in the direction you wish to lay out track. If you lay out a piece of track that you wish to delete, you simply wipe the stylus across the piece of track to remove it. Since these puzzles will begin to get quite challenging and difficult in later levels, the developers have provided two different ways of obtaining hints for times when you find yourself stuck on a particular puzzle. Of course your time limit bar will be docked each time you use one of a hint, so you'll want to be careful how often you make use of them in each specific puzzle.
When you complete a puzzle, you will be given a score based on your performance. Several aspects affect this score including how many sections of track you erased and also how much time you had remaining on the time limit bar when you completed the puzzle. While this does offer some incentive to go back and replay the puzzles you might have struggled on, it can seem a bit unfair as once you know the solution, it's quite easy to go back to the puzzle and run through it quickly for a high score. It mainly depends on how you approach the game and if you're one of those who will resort to memorizing the track in order to gain higher scores on already completed puzzles. There's a Free Play mode that lets you go back and play randomly-generated puzzles, not to mention medals that can earned throughout the challenge mode.
You can't help but appreciate the game's intuitive and easy-to-use controls, and the majority of the puzzles are fairly well laid out and challenging. It would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the challenges instead of variances mainly in just the vehicle themes, but as a simple puzzler experience, it's still solid enough to keep your attention long enough to get your 200 Points out of the package.
The visual presentation is minimal for the most part, but given the task at hand, you can't blame the developers for trying to keep things simple and uncluttered. The same thing can also be said of the game's audio; the music itself is very basic and tends to do more to set the mood of the game rather than try to create any type of tempo for the puzzle action taking place. Even the sound effects tend to be very simple and don't stray too far from the standard presentation set forth throughout the game. Given the fact that you will be spending some lengthy time on many of the later challenges, it's probably just as well that the music isn't constantly blaring in your ears the entire time you're trying to concentrate.
Advanced Circuits is a solid puzzler, but you can't help but come away from it feeling like it's something you've already played before. The varying vehicle themes are fun and give the game a little more charm and personality, but the game's minimal presentation sometimes leaves you wishing for more. If you enjoy a puzzler that's going to require you to put on your thinking cap, this is definitely a game you might want to check out. It might seem rather simple on the outside, but you'll soon find just how difficult this basic puzzle title can truly be. And let's face it, it's hard to complain given the game's extremely affordable 200 Point price tag.