|Publisher: Freeverse Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: Not Supported CPU: G3 RAM: 25 MB Hard Disk: 35 MB 8x CD-ROM Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit|
Think Tetris, then add great graphics, an incredible sense of humor, player-taunting remarks, completely original gameplay modes and terrific multiplayer functions. Put all this together and you have Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab, a game that follows Tetris’ basic premise to a certain point and then takes off in an entirely different direction.
In Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab, players must drop multi-colored shapes down the screen to eliminate rows, grouping like colors together in order to clear space in the game board. The game allows players to choose from an array of characters such as human, gorilla and android scientists as well as a slew of others in the full version.
The game allows players to play against computer or human opponents, even offering a Zen mode in which players must match the computer’s suggested movements while listening to meditation music. The Zen mode is highlighted by soft, relaxing colors, twanging sitars and an almost tantric audio scheme, the overall effect both gently guiding the player to the right move while gradually increasing the level of difficulty. All this is pulled off with a sense of somewhat self-deprecating humor, Freeverse Software taking itself with an immense grain of salt.The game’s Versus mode brings out the best in gaming. Players choose their characters and opponents, the game beginning with both characters trying to control the falling pieces on their individual boards. Complete rows of matching blocks and watch as your opponent suffers, the game dropping layers of useless blocks to clutter their boards. In addition to making the game even harder for your opponent, your character and opponent abuse each other, whacking each other comically after admirable moves have been performed. Items like the Laser, Bomb and Brainwasher drop along with the blocks to assist players by destroying rows of unwanted pieces or converting them to the same color so they’re wiped out instantly.
Network and Internet play is interesting in Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab. The game allows players to host their own AppleTalk-based games (over Ethernet or serial connections) as well as the ability to go on the HMS Freeverse server to find opponents. If this isn’t enough for the multiplayer aficionado, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab is also supported by GameRanger. Simply log in and find an active network game or create your own.
Unfortunately, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab isn’t free. Yes, Freeverse Software wants actual money to reward the hard work of a good number of people for their efforts. Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab costs $19.95 for the registration code and $29.95 for the full game on CD-ROM. The CD-ROM also contains demos of Freeverse’s other games. Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab is more than worth the registration fee, which will either go to help Freeverse pay its rent on its swanky New York offices or be spent on pizza, whichever they’re in the mood for. Shareware games are rarely this good under any circumstances and if any company deserves to be recognized for their efforts, it’s Freeverse Software for this title.
Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab will leave very few users behind with its hardware requirements. Any iMac or 233 MHz G3 machine will run the program beautifully with no significant performance hits. Freeverse Software suggests running Mac OS 8.6 or later as well as devoting 30 MB of RAM to the application, which is more than reasonable for a top shelf shareware program.
With amazing graphics, supurb sound and voiceovers, Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab keeps you coming back for more. Now, I must get back to beating that android monkey opponent that’s been taunting me all night… He will know defeat at my hands. Oh yes, he will.