Review: FIZZ (DSiWare)

Fo Fizzle

Shocking update: a puzzle game was released on DSiWare this week. Non-sarcastic shocking update: it's actually pretty good. We know, we know, it's hard to get too excited about downloadable puzzle games these days, but even with stiff competition on the service, FIZZ still proves itself as a fun and affordable puzzler – even if it's slightly less than perfect.

FIZZ is simple to play, but somewhat difficult to explain. Essentially, the point of the game is to make a ring of electrical energy, but to do this you'll have to line up energy nodes of like colours. Energy nodes come in sets of four, so you'll have to rotate and swap them with adjacent nodes to make one continuous ring. The game throws in some clever twists into the mix that keep the action fast paced and interesting. The first of these twists comes from the age old rule, “don't cross the streams.” If two streams of electrical energy cross for too long, the nodes producing the stream will burn out, which means you'll have to fix them by rubbing them with the stylus. The game also makes the most out of its space setting – every so often an alien swarm, meteor or black hole will pop up and it's your job to fend them off before they do too much damage. If that all sounds confusing, don't worry – it's actually incredibly easy to grasp in practice. The controls, unfortunately, could use a little work.

Although conceptually accessible, and not horrible, the touchscreen controls lack the refinement necessary to consistently pull off everything the game throws your way. Rotating gets confused with swapping, swapping gets confused with rotating, rotating gets confused with fixing, and the list goes on and on. The game certainly isn't unplayable, but these inconsistencies can make it all a bit of a chore sometimes when the action gets intense. And while we like the addition of fighting off enemies, they're often a bit too “blue-shell”; which is to say that just as everything is going your way, they'll come out of nowhere and ruin your weekend. But, as mentioned, the control quirks really don't break the game – a testament to how fun the core mechanics really are.

There are two game modes to take part in, here: Time Attack and Conquest. In Time Attack you see how many energy rings you can make in the given time limit, while in Conquest you simply try to see how long you can go without getting a game over. Both are equally addicting in their own ways, but the lack of online leaderboards limits their long-term appeal.

As far as presentation is concerned FIZZ isn't exactly raising the bar, but then again, why should it? The appeal of the game lies strictly in its compelling gameplay. The sound, however, isn't as easy to dismiss, and its endlessly repeating loops get old fast.

Conclusion

FIZZ isn't quite up to the Art Style standard, but even with its control irritations it still manages to be an incredibly fun and addicting puzzle game. It's a shame that there aren't more options – online leaderboards would have been an ideal addition – but the game is still worth a look at 200 Points.