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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: Any Version    RAM: 32 MB

August 3, 2007 | Michael Wuerthele

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CrazyCrystals is a good casual puzzle game, in the same vein as Zuma or Bejeweled. Sporting a nice lightweight download and occupying less than one megabyte of hard drive space, it is altogether too easy to burn an hour in which you may want to be more productive!

In CrazyCrystals, as with many other games in the same vein, you have varied colors and shapes of jewels placed randomly on a nine by nine grid. To clear jewels, you must have five stones touching; they donít have to be in a row, just touching. No diagonal matches here, only horizontal and vertical. As the player, you have no control over the individual jewel placement. Rather, you can shift an entire row of your choosing left or right, or a column up or down to make your matches. This forces more forward thinking than some other match-and-disappear games. Fail to make a five or more jewel match, and the grid fills with more random jewels in just as random locations on the grid. The only saving grace is the jewels wonít displace other jewels already established on the grid. So, if youíve spent time and moves arranging a massive setup, they wonít clear as new jewels come in to fill the space.

As you play, a thermometer style gage at the bottom of the playfield drains. As sets of jewels are cleared, the gage refills with the amount of the refill dependent on the level of difficulty of the game and how many jewels youíve managed to clear out with your last move. Drain the gage, and game over! Allow the grid to fill completely, and game over! As the game progresses, more colors and shapes of crystals are added, further complicating the situation.

Over time, the background behind the jewels changes pattern and color gradually. I found that this would sometime clear my perceptions of the jewel colors, allowing me to see matches I may not have seen with the previous color combination. This does work for and against the player from time to time, but itís a nice touch just the same.

Graphics and Sound
The graphics are crisp, clear, and functional, with a typical jewel-fall effect when you clear a set of jewels. There is no sound. Itís not implemented yet, but will be soon according to the developer. Note to the developer: lose the comic sans font!

Gameplay Criticisms
CrazyCrystals is a work in progress. In addition to the sound not being implemented as mentioned before, the author is planning on including ďspecialĒ crystals for varying game effects in a future version. In this reviewerís opinion, the power-up crystal would add a great deal of gameplay value, rather than just the endless march of crystal clearing.

When a column or row is shifted, itís very sensitive to which direction in which you moved the mouse immediately after clicking the button. I would personally like to see the ability to toggle back and forth depending on which axis I have moved more, rather than the initial direction of movement after clicking to drag the row or column. As it stands now, if Iíve fidgeted a little in the vertical direction right after clicking, it assumes that I only want to move vertically, and I have to let go of the stack and re-click to drag horizontally. While it is fortunate the original location I clicked is highlighted with a symbol so I donít waste the move, a little more flexibility on this point would be nice.

Technical Criticisms
The OS X installer image doesnít have a clean presentation. The three weblinks provided on the image are essentially text files, with the url to the message boards inside the text file. These really should be Safari shortcuts. This does not detract from gameplay, but the lack of attention to detail in that regard leaves something to be desired. More seriously, four times during the review process, the application didnít quit when told to do so. A force quit cleared this up, with no ill effects to the system or future launchability of the application. This manifested itself on both the Intel tower and on the PPC PowerBook, so itís not a Rosetta emulation issue.

The Final Verdict
CrazyCrystals is another casual crystal clearing game, with its own gimmick. Youíll either love it, or you wonít, and this depends mainly on if you like the genre. Thereís nothing particularly poor about the game, but there also isnít anything that youíll stand up and go ďWOW!Ē about. With some more work on the game's presentation and gameplay, the game could truly be one of the better titles in the casual game market. For now, itís slightly above average in a crowded field.

Download CrazyCrystals Demo


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