Sokomania 2: Cool Job Review
Posted by Lee Meyer
Cinemax's 2010 DSiWare puzzler Sokomania received a disappointing 3/10 in our review, due to its cheap presentation, lack of content and absence of variety. Unfortunately, Sokomania 2: Cool Job, while sporting a little more personality and improved visuals than its predecessor, doesn't improve upon the one-note gameplay and feels just as empty an experience.
"Sokomania" is a play on the word "Sokoban," but players unfamiliar with Sokoban puzzles needn't be intimidated, as anyone who has played video games has likely encountered a Sokoban puzzle in some form or another without realizing it. Sokoban involves moving crates to the correct targets by pushing them, tile by tile. Games like Adventures of Lolo and the WiiWare horror puzzler LIT are variations on the puzzle, and series like The Legend of Zelda have incorporated crate-moving riddles as well. But where these titles use the Sokoban format in clever ways, Sokomania 2 feels like a template that has barely been customised.
In Sokomania 2, players are dropped into the role of a factory worker who has to move around crates and manipulate switches, conveyor belts and other contraptions to get crates to the designated target. The levels start out very simply, with some requiring little to no thought whatsoever, and gradually ramp up, with levels that introduce crates that will travel across the stage when pushed once, levels that start with crates already moving and levels in which one wrong move will force the player to start over. The puzzle design is competent, with no broken solutions, but there's also nothing that will prompt an "ah-ha!" moment. Everything feels very routine, formulaic and dull.
The action takes place on the top screen, while the bottom screen functions as an overhead, zoomed-out map of the stage, which can be helpful in larger stages. There is limited camera movement via the stylus, but it's not very useful, and most players will be able to solve each puzzle by looking at the bottom screen. There is an undo button that players will definitely use, and the bottom screen tracks steps and pushes. There are no online leaderboards, but a code can be generated to upload statistics onto the developer's website.
While the game's art shows a hint of whimsy, the in-game graphics fail to follow through. Visually, Sokomania 2 is a step up from its incredibly primitive predecessor, but the drab factory setting allows for a limited colour palette and no environmental variety. The title screen also seems to be its sole piece of art, and the factory worker is little more than a tiny sprite. The sound effects and music may as well be turned off entirely, because neither makes any kind of impression.
Sokomania 2: Cool Job is a competent, playable little puzzler that, at its low price point, could provide the player with a few minutes of diversion. However, the lack of variety, originality and "hook" to distinguish it from superior titles holds it back from earning a recommendation. Skip this one unless you've exhausted all your other options.