|Publisher: Fun Pause Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G4 @ 667 MHz RAM: 128 MB Hard Disk: 40 MB|
In the world of games, there are very few which are wholly original. Inevitably games tend to follow patterns set by their predecessors, and although there are often highly original games made within well-worn genres (Gish comes to mind), there are also lots of other games which are little more than remakes with updated graphics or a slightly different premise.
On the other hand, the reason there are so may remakes of certain games or genres is that those games are a lot of fun. Which leads us pretty directly to Fairies, the most recent game from Fun Pause.
Fairies is an unabashed clone (or, more accurately, near clone) of Pop Cap Games' Chuzzle. From basic gameplay mechanics to tutorial screens, Fairies and Chuzzle have a remarkable number of similarities. However, different play modes, top-notch presentation, and the plain fact that Chuzzle is not available for Mac (beyond the web version) makes Fairies a very appealing addition to any puzzle gamer's Application folder.
According to Fun Pause's website, Fairies has a story: "As the most powerful wizard ever known, you are the only hope for a once peaceful land where fairies have been captured by an unknown evil. Complete 100 mesmerizing levels, break the magical spell that traps the fairies inside pictures, and restore justice to this world in need. You will be a hero, and be granted the ultimate power. Use it wisely!" I am not sure why they bothered writing this somewhat ridiculous premise. It isn't ever really referenced within the game, and when you come right down to it being the most powerful wizard ever known only really amounts to being able to drag rows of jars around in order to free fairies, relying mainly on your puzzle solving abilities and sometimes quickness with the mouse. So much for ultimate power.
GameplayFairies is a puzzle game in the solid tradition of Bejeweled and other color matching games. The basic gameplay mechanic is matching three or more colored fairy jars, which will then disappear (freeing the fairies within). Freeing more fairies, creating chain reactions, and various special abilities all increase the points that you can gain, and for each chain of fairies freed, you receive a certain amount of fairy dust which slowly fills a scale. When the scale is filled, you move on to the next level.
The way in which you manipulate the jars of fairies is slightly different from other color matching games, however. When you start a new game you are given a six-by-six grid of fairy jars. You can move any column or row by clicking and dragging, and the jars wrap around from end to end. When jars are cleared, the other jars fall downward and new ones enter at the top of the screen. Things get slightly more complicated with the addition of special jars, which may liberate some random fairies, remove all of one color, change some jars' color, or lock a row and column in place so that you can't move it. Additionally, a small imp sometimes shows up in the corner, and releases a random power-up when you click him.
Granted, this is not exactly a new idea, but on the other hand as puzzle game mechanics go it is a lot of fun. The gameplay is simple enough to pick up quickly and without needing to read more than a quick tutorial screen, but it takes skill to master the art of seeing color combinations and even more skill to be able to create combos as a regular thing. The fact that everything wraps is a fun twist to the standard color-matching mechanics, as well, since when the best combinations are often across the screen from each other it forces you to take a step back and try to see the whole picture.