Actionloop (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 26.01.2007 8

Mitchell Corporation has definitely had strong ties with Nintendo over the past few years, with Polarium being one of the best games in the initial DS first generation line-up, proving to be a very addictive puzzle game. Following this, a version was also brought to the Game Boy Advance, garnering critical acclaim, but sadly being overlooked in terms of sales in the West due to a lack of support. Now the team is back with its classic Puzz-Loop franchise, which has been adapted for the Nintendo DS and has finally made its way to Europe, complete with its second name change. Does it deserve to have more success here than it has achieved elsewhere so far? Let us find out...

As has been stated time and again in reviews here at Cubed3, the aesthetics definitely should take somewhat of a backseat when it comes to the puzzle genre. There is nothing worse than having overly elaborate visuals distracting you from the intense gameplay that requires the utmost concentration, and the same goes for the impact of the soundtrack. However, obviously the extreme opposite is not desirable either, which is why it is so pleasing to see Mitchell maintain the perfect balance of simple-but-effective graphics for actionloop, as well as suitable music. Menus are clear, well-defined and easy to navigate; the marbles are large enough to be seen clearly on the small DS screen, plus are brightly shaded, preventing issues in distinguishing between different colours; and the various tracks are deviously designed, but crafted with expertise, thus avoiding confusion for the gamer when under pressure. Music-wise, those who played either Polarium game will be at home with the style used, with peaceful tunes playing in the background for the most part, except for when you are set to fail a mission, at which point the pace of the music picks up and a siren sounds repeatedly as a warning. Again, it is all balanced extremely well.

Screenshot for Actionloop on Nintendo DS

Polarium was an out-and-out puzzle game, flipping tiles by tapping on them and either forming batches of white or black together to make them subsequently disappear. This time, though, there experience is more involved, hence this is being classed as an 'action puzzle' game. The general aim is to match up three or more of the same coloured Gemstones (they look just like marbles) in order to clear them before the screen fills up too much and you reach 'Game Over' status. That part is where the puzzle aspect comes in. As for the action, that side stems from how the stylus is used to flick Gemstones at the on-coming ones as quickly as possible.

Each stage takes place on a special twisting and turning track, with some being pure spiral affairs, whilst others look snake-like. Somewhere on the screen is your base, where one Gemstone appears at a time. Elsewhere on the screen is the winding track, where a line of marbles will start rolling towards a gaping hole. The objective is to accurately fling your next marble at the moving line and into a matching colour, eventually notching up three or more together to clear them out of the way and avoid everything dropping through the hole.

Screenshot for Actionloop on Nintendo DS

Sounds ultra simple, right? Well, that is the beauty of it; simple it may sound, but deep and extremely taxing is actually what is in store for gamers picking this up! All of the marbles are magnetised and relate to proper physics. This means that considering your balls’ speed is determined by how fast you flick them on the touch-screen, if a marble travels too slowly, it can be attracted to another marble that is in a slightly different position to where you wanted your ball to land. So power and accuracy are extremely important factors. Equally of importance, though, are items that are at your disposal, such as ones that stop time, slow the progress of the marble train, send the marbles flying backwards along the track and even remove all of one particular colour. Another aspect of magnetism that comes in very handy is when you clear a patch of marbles in the centre of the line, creating a gap in the midst of the snaking line. If the start of one line and end of the other are the same colour, they are drawn towards each other and combination links start to build up, helping you out by giving you more breathing space, as well as racking up your total points tally.

There are four modes on offer: Challenge, Quest, Checkmate and Multiplayer. Challenge is the standard set-up, with players trying to survive as long as possible at different difficulty levels (with a troublesome rocket appearing after reaching each tenth level, which quickly pushes the marble train closer to the hole and must be hit directly by one of your marbles to explode it), but it is the other modes that will likely take your main focus. Quest mode is similar, but introduces extra track designs, the various items, as well as even more than one launch pad for you to flick balls around. In these challenges you must keep going until you despatch a set number of marbles, trying to achieve a gold rating on each level by getting as many points and combos as possible, plus finishing quickly.

Screenshot for Actionloop on Nintendo DS

Next is Checkmate, the real brain-teaser section, where you are shown a small section of marbles sat on the screen and have a set number of coloured balls to flick at them, with the aim being to clear the screen entirely with the allotted marbles. Leave any behind and you must restart the level again; this one was definitely a personal favourite! Finally there is multiplayer, where marbles cleared on your screen appear as blocks on your opponent’s, which can only be removed by clearing colours either side of them. New items also make an appearance, such as ones that pour smoke onto the screen (which can be blown away using the microphone), change the direction of launched balls, block the launch-pad and even suck launched marbles into a black hole. There is definitely something for everyone in this latest addition to the Touch Generations line.

And just as the Polarium games were tremendously taxing, ensuring that value for money was gained from your purchase (more so with the £19.99 DS game than the £29.99 GBA title, though…), actionloop certainly does not make anything easy for gamers and thus ensures it has great longevity. You really will need to make sure you have your concentrating head on when playing through, or else progress will quickly become stunted. And with the three main single-player modes, each providing a hefty numbers of stages of rapidly increasing difficulty, as well as options to play multiplayer with a friend via local wireless using just a single DS card or multi-card for extra options, plus a free Rumble Pak in the package, actionloop really does justify the £19.99 price-tag. Oh, and do not forget to make use of your Polarium Advance cartridge to unlock special bonus puzzles.

Screenshot for Actionloop on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

As previously stated, Mitchell has taken a marvellous original game and spruced it up so well for the Nintendo DS that it should make any cheap cash-in competitors blush. This is the pinnacle of Puzz-Loop fun and the perfect blend of action and puzzling together. Forget Zuma, actionloop is the way to go...

Also known as

Magnetica

Developer

Mitchell

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

The DS seems to have a never ending range of games, with some real gems in the collection. I hope the Wii follows suit.

Enoch Powell was right, and you know it.

It certainly does and puzzle fans will definitely warm to this, I reckon!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Interesting, could pick this up if I have a bit of time...probably won't though. Good that the rumble pack is coming over here at last!

It's very pleasing to see Nintendo putting this out at

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

There is a DS lite on the box, is the rumble pack for the Lite or the fat chunky beast?

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?
-What?

Nice Zuma clone!

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

Except zuma came out way after this

...in japan...

Its only Europe being neglected again that it comes out after zuma

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

I've seen Polarium Advance for

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