Honeycomb Beat (Nintendo DS) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 24.10.2007 4

Honeycomb Beat is Hudson Soft’s latest puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. It has been available in the States since March, but only recently arrived in Europe courtesy of Rising Star Games. It aims to fuse music and "addictive puzzle action" into one challenging, honeycomb-filled portable outing. But does it succeed, or would you be better off sticking with the tried-and-tested blocks of Tetris? You’ll have to read on for our full review in order to find out! (Or just skip to the conclusion, whatever floats your boat).

If you’ve ever played a puzzle game before, you know that it’s the core gameplay mechanic – be it rotating blocks, shooting bubbles, or whatever else – that is key to the game’s overall success and replayability. As such, it makes sense to begin our review with a brief description of Honeycomb Beat’s most basic elements; the honeycombs. These hexagonal shapes, which come in two different colours: white, and another of your own choosing, make up the playing area in both of the game’s playable modes: Puzzle and Evolution. The premise is simple; tap (or rather 'beat') them with the stylus and they will flip and change colour. However, doing so will flip all adjacent honeycombs as well.

Screenshot for Honeycomb Beat on Nintendo DS

The core goals of both the aforementioned modes directly depend on this mechanic. Puzzles require players to flip all honeycombs on the screen to white, whereas Evolution challenges them to create lines of solid colour as the honeycombs gradually move towards the top of the screen (subsequently ending the game if they are not stopped). Simple enough, right? Alas, Hudson has also included a number of additional elements that can either aid or hinder your progress depending on your ability to use them efficiently. These elements come in the form of special panels: Count Panels, Vector Labels and the almighty Hu Bee panel.

The first of these, the Count Panel, features a single digit number which represents the number of times it must be ‘beat’ before it reveals its true colour and can be used properly. The Vector Label features a directional arrow (horizontal or diagonal) and will subsequently flip all honeycomb panels in that direction (including itself). However, just to complicate things further, if a Vector Label is flipped by a local panel that it is not perpendicular to its own axis, the direction of its arrow will be altered accordingly. Although these special panels work in the same way regardless of which mode they appear in, their use to the player can be differ drastically.

Screenshot for Honeycomb Beat on Nintendo DS

When playing one of the game’s 200 puzzles, the number of panels is specifically limited in order create (often mind-bendingly difficult) situations that can only be cleared in a certain way. Some special panels appear on the playing area by default, but others are stored in the Stock area and can dragged onto any on-screen panel, thus imbuing it with the relevant ‘power’. The Evolution mode also includes the Stock area, but it is filled manually by including special panels in the lines of solid colour which we described earlier. The final special panel is known as the ‘Hu Bee’ and looks remarkably similar to Hudson’s company logo. This particular panel only appears in the Evolution mode, and very sporadically at that. It effectively clears the entire screen of all panels in a split-second.

Fans of classic puzzle games will undoubtedly feel more at home with the Evolution Mode, which is far more hectic than its Puzzle Mode brethren, but less mentally taxing. However, it is clear that the latter mode is the one that Hudson has dedicated most of its development time to. In fact, 20 of the 200 puzzles were offered by popular Japanese puzzle company Nikoli, which helps to keep things interesting. Unfortunately a lot of these puzzles are incredibly unforgiving right from the start. We’ve been playing the game for a good few days now and we’re still completely stumped by more than a few seemingly impossible challenges. Whilst some gamers will undoubtedly lap up the chance to push their mental abilities to the limit, others will not, and without the puzzles they may well find themselves bored of the game rather quickly.

Screenshot for Honeycomb Beat on Nintendo DS

This problem is not helped by the game’s lack of alternative modes or multiplayer functionality (be it wireless or online). With the exception of some unlockable extras (background music, background images, etc.) there is very little to lure you back once you have dusted of the puzzles (or grown weary of them) and lost interest in the Evolution mode, which offers little incentive for continued play other than to obtain an improved high score. It’s a shame, because the core mechanic is a fairly addictive one that works well, even if it can be intense unfriendly, irritating and confusing at times. At the end of the day, Honeycomb Beat just doesn’t quite have that extra ‘something’ needed to push it into classic puzzle territory. With just a few additional features – perhaps a puzzle editor, the ability to download/upload new puzzles, online multiplayer/scoreboards, etc – this could have been much, much more.

Screenshot for Honeycomb Beat on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Honeycomb Beat is not a bad puzzle game by any means, and its core gameplay mechanic is interesting for a time. The puzzles can be extremely challenging, and the unlockable content is a nice bonus for those playing through for the first time, but eventually the appeal starts to wear thin and you’ll start longing to see a shape with fewer sides. Is it fun for a few hours? Yes. Is it worth dishing out cold, hard cash for in the long-term? No.

Developer

Hudson

Publisher

Konami

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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

Comments

Good review Karn. :Smilie I played a bit of this when it came out in the US of A a few months ago, seemed like fun. From what I played, I agree with what you've said - not really enough to it, unfortunately.

It's not good, no, no, no...

Cheers, Mike. As I say in the review, I did enjoy the game for a time, but after a few hours I started seeing hexagons when I closed my eyes and before I went to sleep at night. :P

It's not good, no, no, no...

Thanks for making my 1000 word review obsolete. Smilie


Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

Sounds like a fun game, but sadly not a patch on the superb Puzzle League! Hopefully Hudson will build upon the idea and do an upgraded sequel in the future.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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