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Publisher: Reflexive Entertainment    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4

Big Kahuna Reef 2
February 4, 2009 | Ted Bade

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Big Kahuna Reef 2: Chain Reaction is the second game in the Big Kahuna Reef series. Don’t think this version is simply more of the same. While this version has a lot in common with the first version, in this new version the puzzle boards are both more interesting and often more complex; exploding pieces have been added, challenges and scoring methods are more complex, and (let us not forget this important aspect) there are new fish to win and add to your collection. This new version is even more fun than the first one.

Playing this game is very basic. The player switches the position of two adjacent tiles: left/right. up/down, but not diagonally. When the switch creates a set of three or more of the same tiles, these tiles disappear, tiles above drop down and new tiles fall into the top positions. Some tiles are sitting on or in a box. Making the match with one or more tiles in a box breaks the box, making it disappear, and you get some points. Some boxes require more than one match over them to make them disappear and some boxes are secured by one or more chains, each requiring a match to make it disappear. Chained tiles cannot move, so the match has to be brought to it. There are also fish skeleton (Skeleton Fish of Kamehameha) pieces that, if matched by you create new boxes, but if matched by falling into place, give you points. As in the previous game, the object is to clear away all the boxed spaces.

You gain points by making matches over the boxes that need to be removed. When you clear away a series of boxes, you get more and more points for each subsequent match. At the same time, the Tiki on the side of the game window grows creating more and more frantic sounds. In this new version, get to a high enough level and the Tiki shoots rays onto the board converting some pieces to exploding tiles. Finally, a fish net is acquired after so many matches. This net can be used to remove one tile. Using it strategically can be a real game saver.

Each board is timed. As you play, fluid is drained out of a Kahuna Tiki head. If playing a timed mode, when the time runs out, you can either use a spare life to add some more time or give up and use a life to start the next board. In the relaxed mode, you simply continue until the board is cleared. The player is awarded points for any time left over when the board is complete.

The new version has a lot more added to the basic game. First of all are the special “bomb” tiles. These tiles explode, destroying the tiles and boxes around the bomb. In the case of the boxes and chains, the bomb clears away one level, so if you need 3 matches to clear it completely, the bomb clears away one of these three. Bombs are awarded for matching five or more tiles. There are several different bomb types, ranging in area of effect from a small firecracker to a large effect-area nuclear device. The bombs are a real benefit to this game and are especially helpful for some of the more difficult boards. The bomb is ignited by swapping it with any adjacent tile. Often, I needed to to carefully make matches below the bomb to drop it down to the area where it did the most good.

When you play a board in Big Kahuna Reef, the board sits on top of a reef background. A variety of fish swim back and forth. When you make pointed matches, different types of fish are released. As you progress through the levels, additional types of fish and aquatic mammals are made available. If you like, you can put the game in screen saver mode and just watch the fish swim about.

The boards in this game are a lot more interesting than in the first version. Each board has a name and often comes with a picture that is added to the background. As the game progresses, the boards become more and more complex. Borders and dead spaces are placed to make it difficult to match certain tiles.

You may notice that they've added “Chain Reaction” to the subtitle of this game. Some of the boards start with a bang! The player makes a match and a series of well placed bombs and/or tiles create a chain reaction that eventually allows the tiles to flow into the main part of the board. It is fun to watch. The big challenge here is to choose or find the best tile to start the biggest reaction. In some cases, there is only one possible starting point. Watching the Tiki go up and up and up is a lot of fun as well, especially since during this chain reaction, you don’t have to concentrate on the board to find your next move.


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