Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Magic Beans from Pixelthis Mobile - Flash Lite Game Review

Magic Beans
Developed by Pixelthis Mobile
Released: 1st Quarter 2008
Availability: Verizon Wireless (via Smashing Games/Smashing Content), voeveo.com
Requirements: Flash Lite 1.1 and above

Note: I did the review on the Nokia E90 which runs Flash Lite 2.x. However, I have Flash Lite 3 with recent firmware update!

"... kind of like a fun take on a block Tetris, only in reverse, and with lot more imagination ... " - Scott Janousek

Review by Scott Janousek


Peter Vullings of Pixelthis Mobile sent us (frame27) a new game called "Magic Beans".

Given our review of Rune Mage earlier last year, we were glad to see yet another puzzle title from (Peter and his posse).

After playing for a bit, I think of Magic Beans as kind of like a fun spin on block Tetris, only in reverse, and with lot more imagination.

Here is a bit of narrative on the game:

"While experimenting with beans in his secret underground labratory, Dr. Blah creates out-of-control Magic Beans! Try to control Dr. Blah's creation before things get out of hand. A frantically addcitive game that turn your perspective on falling block games upside-down!"

Pixelthis Mobile

Ok. Let's roll up the sleeves and get into it. :)

The objective is to get the highest score possible by forming groups of four or more (magic) beans of the same color within the "garden grid". Upon matching, the correctly colored beans will magically disappear and allow the beans that are stacked above to drop down.

You add beans to the screen by selecting a place in the ground (the lowest level of the garden grid). There are 6 positions to plant to. Planting in a spot where vine already exists pushes the vine up by one position and so forth.

You control where to plant your beans by using your devices up and down keys to rotate a "planter" (which always consists of 2 magic beans at a time). Moving left and right will adjust your position within the area where you must plant your beans.

Scoring Points:
Points are scored by the total beans you manage to match and how they are matched in groups (horizontally or vertically, not diagonally, but also not necessarily "in a row").

As time progresses, the game speed increases, adding a bit of challenge to the title. Every twenty turns will be a small increase, so you need to be quick on your foot and get your beans planted!

The game ends when a player allows one of the growing vines of magic beans to get to the very top of the screen where the falling carrots come from.

At the end, the beans all turn into carrots and your score is totaled and can be seen on the leader board (on a separate version it has been said, that there may be network submission if you are planning on competing against other player scores).

Carrots, anyone?:
Did I mention the falling carrots? Ah. Yes, the (very evil) falling carrots ... these get created when magic "acid drops" fit the ground when you run out of time, or at pivotal points in your game as you attain points.

Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out the best way to deal with carrots. They are kind of the bane of my existence when I play (right now). I won't be eating carrots this week. :)

One more thing, there are "combos" in this game to attain. This happens if a group of beans is removed and thus consequently forms another group.

This is considered a combo, and when it happens you get a special pair of same colored beans which, when planted, all beans and carrots next to them (but not diagonally), will switch to be the same color.

This enables, you the player, to get some potential mega score!

Speaking of Score, it's broken up by the following:

A score of 100 is awarded by forming four beans, and every extra bean or carrot in the group adds more points (10 I believe). For example:

4 beans: 100 points
5 beans: 110 points
6 beans: 120 points ... and so on.

If two groups form at once then they are scored separately and then added. According to the documentation; in a combo the group score is also multiplied. The combo multiplier is x2 for a single, x3 for a double, etc. Additionally, a 2000 point "clear screen bonus" is awarded if a screen is completely cleared of all beans and carrots.

The Good

The MIDI soundtrack for the music is very cute and appropriate for the game setting. The game play is very addicting once you understand the rules and start to play.

The graphics are very appropriate and highly detailed (see screenshots above) and give the game a very "mystical sort of feeling" that is a trademark of the work that comes out of Pixelthis.

Attention to detail, such as the animated bird in the background is also a nice touch.

The Bad

The instructions are a bit lacking, so there is a bit of a learning curve. This is especially true of buttons and how they interact with the game.

Lots of rules for this game. A full on tutorial would probably be well suited for this game, or perhaps even a step-by-step level where a player "learns" as they play that level.

Also, a tiny nit-pick, we found the "Quit" menu a bit hard to see on the opening screen (when highlighted), since it is green on green (just a switch to blue sky background should fix this).

Other than that, the game is well done, and I'm sure there will be folks attracted to it's initial game graphics, and hooked by the unique game play!

Review by Scott Janousek