Grid Mania (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 03.03.2018

Review for Grid Mania on Nintendo Switch

How hard should a puzzle game ideally be? The puzzle genre thrives in thought-provoking challenge, but puzzles inherently carry with them a calming effect. Too much difficulty can turn what is otherwise a way to relax into an ordeal. Of course, difficulty can also enhance the experience. It's incredibly satisfying solving a particularly hard puzzle and moving on to whatever comes next. Grid Mania certainly carries itself as a relaxing brainteaser, but not without offering a considerable amount of challenge across its four game modes.

Separated into four game modes, Grid Mania is a deceptively simple puzzler where moving balls into their designated spaces is much harder than it seems. Blue balls go into blue squares and red balls go into red squares, but the act of getting them into said squares occasionally requires moving balls that were otherwise fine where they were. Movement doesn't actually move the balls themselves, but rather shifts the line the balls are in. Moving a red ball vertically into the proper square would also move any balls in its column upwards, causing potential problems in the long run. Strategy plays a key role in ensuring balls fall where they need to. Sometimes a ball needs to be shifted into a new row before the column can be moved, in a similar fashion to the browser-based free title, CROSSNIQ.

Screenshot for Grid Mania on Nintendo Switch

Since movement is tracked, the goal of each puzzle is to finish with as few moves done as quickly as possible. It's established rather early on that balls can cross the edge of the grid onto the other side, saving a good three to five moves depending on the size of the board. Later on, however, obstacles are introduced on the edges to prevent crossing, necessitating a deeper understanding of each individual grid's layout in order to finish them comfortably. Unfortunately, as emphasised as move count and time is, the game seemingly does not keep track of each stage's individual stats, almost nullifying these concepts as secondary goals. It's a disappointing oversight that takes away from the desire to finish each stage as efficiently as possible.

Thankfully, the core gameplay is fun enough to justify continued playing even if record keeping isn't a possibility. Each game mode utilises the gameplay in a unique enough way, albeit perhaps not unique enough, where the thrill of moving balls into their squares is never lost. Between Casual Puzzle, Quick Challenge, Grid Madness, and Chain Reaction, there are over 100 different puzzles to solve, some even randomly generated.

Screenshot for Grid Mania on Nintendo Switch

Of the four modes available, Casual Puzzle is the closest to a "main" mode. It utilises the mechanics in a straightforward manner and offers a comprehensive enough tutorial. Each stage has its own self-contained grid with a solution that isn't often obvious at first glance. In fact, it doesn't take long for the difficulty to spike and for a surprising amount of complexity to be added to the puzzle solving.

Quick Challenge is similar to Casual Puzzle, but it requires each stage to be cleared in a certain number of moves. In limiting the move count, the solution to each grid feels more deliberate. The experimentation from Casual Puzzle isn't as present, but the deliberate design of Quick Challenge makes for memorable puzzles with creative and specific solutions. Clearing a stage requires closely examining how balls in each row and column will affect one another. It's also worth mentioning that Quick Challenge does have some randomly generated stages, but they are never generated in a way where clearing them is impossible. They pale in comparison to the actual crafted puzzles, but they are a pleasing inclusion for anyone who clears Quick Challenge but still craves some limited puzzle solving.

Screenshot for Grid Mania on Nintendo Switch

Grid Madness is a far cry from Casual Puzzle and Quick Challenge. Abandoning square placement, the goal of Grid Madness is to connect balls of the same colour to each other in order to make them disappear. When three or more connect, they break apart and squares form underneath them. The goal is to connect all the balls together in order to fill the entire grid. It emphasises the experimentation of Casual Puzzle, but lacks the deliberation from Quick Challenge. Like Quick Challenge, Grid Madness also offers randomly generated levels, but its open-ended nature serves the randomness far better.

The last of the four, Chain Reaction, stands out as the weak link of the bunch. The goal is simple enough, keep balls on their respective squares and then line up other balls so they are all connected to the square. It's a mix of the experimentation and deliberation of the previous modes, but its lack of emphasis is just that: a lack of emphasis. Casual Puzzle feels balanced, but Chain Reaction feels far less realised.

At its core, Grid Mania is a charming and worthwhile puzzle game that offers a consistent challenge with a massive amount of content, especially for its light price tag. Not every mode is a hit, and the lack of variety can feel underwhelming, but it's an overall enjoyable experience that serves as a respectable brainteaser.

Screenshot for Grid Mania on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Designed for short bursts and with more than enough content to justify its incredibly generous price tag, Grid Mania offers a unique puzzle experience with plenty of challenge to go around. The four game modes aren't as distinct as they perhaps could or should be, but the core design is strong enough to keep each mode from feeling derivative of one another. As the difficulty gradually curves up and critical thought becomes a more frequent demand, Grad Mania establishes itself as a highly satisfying puzzler that still manages to be quite relaxing at its hardest.

Developer

FX Valley

Publisher

QubicGames

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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   

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