If there’s one thing that can certainly be said about DSiWare games, it’s this: no matter how ridiculous the name of your game is, it can be made. Proving this point with much gusto is Crazy Cheebo: Puzzle Party, the latest addition to the countless puzzle games already available on the service. But, beyond the title, is this one different and original enough to stand out among the crowd?
Crazy Cheebo: Puzzle Party is a match three puzzle game that does little to stray away from the classic formula. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, as simple pick-up-and-play puzzle games are always popular (especially with the casual gaming crowd), it leaves little to be desired from this title over the plethora of others that are already available on DSiWare. An attempt was made at hiding the lack of depth and originality in the core gameplay offered here in that there is a sort of plot that goes along with it. Before beginning the single player mode, a CGI video plays of the main character, an alien named Crazy Cheebo, being attacked by a giant robot called the Drone, which chases Crazy Cheebo into a crowd of other aliens, and here the game begins. You are immediately dropped into the first level where you will be expected to match rows of three or more alien heads of the same colour.
While the story does not go any further than that, elements of it are incorporated into the gameplay. The entirety of the game is played by dragging different coloured alien faces either horizontally or vertically across the six by six game board using the DSi’s touch screen. The longer it takes for you to make a move, the more the progress bar will fill up. If the progress bar fills completely before you make a move, then a single random piece on the board will be locked (presumably by the drone), and you will no longer be able to move that piece. Later in the game, the Drone will begin to appear in levels, taking up large portions of space on the game board and limiting the areas in which you can move, making it more difficult to match alien heads. Unlike other puzzle games, rather than blocking you from making wrong moves, this game instead allows you to make them, but you are only allowed a certain amount of wrong moves per game. The game ends when you either use up all of your moves, or when the entire board is locked.
Getting matches and making combos will earn you different awards, some of which can be used as items in the game, and some of which simply add more points to your total score. Some of the more useful awards will grant you more moves to use, some will allow you to unlock pieces that have been rendered unmovable, and others will let you remove the Drone from the game board entirely. Using these awards at the right time is essential for a successful playing strategy, especially in the later levels when things begin to get hectic.
While the concept is incredibly simple and the gameplay becomes very easy and repetitive as you get used to it, after about level 30 it becomes a bit unfair. With the speed of the progress bar rapidly increasing with each level, it becomes almost impossible to make moves without getting half of the board locked.
Though the CGI videos in this game aren’t bad looking at all, the actual in-game graphics aren’t very impressive, though with a game like this good graphics are very important at all. Everything is clear and defined enough to differentiate between, and that’s all that really matters. The soundtrack consists of a handful of different techno mixes that fit the fast paced mood of the game, but just as with the visuals, it’s really nothing special.
There is a multiplayer option available to go head-to-head with a friend, but there is no download play, so both parties need to have the game downloaded to their console. Beyond that, there are no other features aside from looking at your high scores. The bulk of the gameplay lies in the single player mode.
While Crazy Cheebo: Puzzle Party is unoriginal and feels like a PC game from the late 90s, at the same time it doesn’t really do anything wrong. The gameplay is focused more towards the casual gaming crowd who are looking for a simple yet fun and addictive game, and it provides just that. Serious gamers or puzzle fans might be let down by the lack of depth, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining and worth a glance.