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Publisher: John Stiles    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 601

Candy Crisis
March 31, 2000 | Tuncer Deniz

Since the release of Tetris back in the mid-80s, it would take both hands (and likely a foot or two) to count all of the knock-offs that have arisen to ride its fame. The idea of those falling blocks just seem to be ripe pickings for game makers to copy. But please do not discard Skittles 2 as "just another Tetris," as it is so much more.

Somewhat like Nintendo's Dr. Mario, Skittles 2 lets two big-eyed candies fall per melee. As they descend you rotate them clockwise into position to connect with any others of the same color. The goal is to get a minimum of four Skittles of the same color connected together any way you can (other than diagonal), so that they will disappear and let any above fall down. While it may sound simple at first, the strategy behind Skittles 2 can be daunting at higher levels. When a combo is of five or more pieces, little clear Skittles will drop on your opponent. So the more Skittles you can clear off all at once, the more clear Skittles will drop on your opponent, blocking possible strategies they may be working on. You win the level by
having your opponent's Skittles reach the top of the screen. To add even more spice into the mixture, there is the occasional bomb which will knock out all the Skittles of one color and can make for some very nasty combinations.

Taste the Rainbow
When Skittles first opens up, you can start off with a handy tutorial and then choose to play against the computer, a friend, or simply skirmish in solitaire mode to hone your skills.

The tutorial is quick but gives a good run-down of how to orient those cute, multicolored candies. The solitaire mode begins by only giving you three different colors to work with, gradually adding more as you make progress. While this may get old after a bit, it is a good place to work on strategies without the competition of the computer or other opponent dropping clear Skittles on you.

Playing against the computer is a challenge. While the first four levels in the unregistered version may be a breeze, getting past levels seven or eight in the full game can be downright hard. The difficulty was actually increased in the first patch, and may be a bit high as it is. While the computer doesn't seem to be too forward-thinking (it doesn't usually brew up impressively large combinations), the sheer speed of it at higher levels makes it a formidable opponent. Only one or two clear Skittles are needed to
clog up your attempts to make combinations and quickly put you on the defensive. To beat the computer, the best strategy seems to be one or two large combos as opposed to a number of smaller ones. It would be nice to see a couple of difficulty levels to choose from in the single player to let novices play through all of the levels.

Two player mode is a lot of fun. It's too bad there is no Internet play option, as I think Skittles 2 would hog up a majority of GameRanger games very quickly! But with the universal appeal of Skittles 2, it shouldn't be hard to get a sibling, roommate, spouse or parent to sit down next to you at the keyboard and start in. Even if one person is a Skittles expert, the handicap features allow any two people to play at equal levels. Another slight disappointment of the two player mode is that there is no persistent score-keeping. I would really like to see a tournament mode with the two players moving through the 12 levels sequentially. The handicaps would be selected at the start and the player with the best score at the end would be the winner. But don't let me make it sound horrible, the two player mode is very fun and is itself worth the cost of registering the game!


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