In 1985, a man by the name of Alexey Pajitnov invented a game called Tetris, which took off and became one of the greatest arcade games of that era. Trying to ride on the coattails of Tetris’ success, numerous clones and modifications have cropped up over the years, but I have never found excitement in such a game. When the good people over at Kemco gave us a Tetris-type game to review, I wasn’t expecting much, but EggMania: Eggstreme Madness proved me wrong! Ready? Set … GO!
At first glance, it looks like a children’s game, but looks can be deceiving! You control an egg who stacks blocks according to your bidding in a game of reverse Tetris. Instead of making solid lines disappear for points, you must stack blocks on top of each other to CREATE lines that will allow your egg to climb to the top. I find this version of Tetris to be far superior to the original. All of the Tetris basics are here: blocks fall faster as you progress, and odd-shaped blocks appear more often, etc. To achieve its addictive status, the game departs from its humble Tetris roots in a few ways. First of all, you race either a computer opponent or one of your pals. You can select varying degrees of difficulty for the computer opponent, but as you proceed through each board, the opponent becomes more adept at stacking blocks. When you first start a single player game, you are given two options, “over easy” or “hard boiled.” In “over easy,” there is no way to change the difficulty setting, since it’s more of a way to familiarize yourself with the game than a challenge. The “hard boiled” version is where the game really shines; you can select a difficulty of easy, medium or hard, and the complexity increases as you proceed further into the game.
Each level generally looks the same, except for the background and color of the blocks, but there are different tricks and traps to each level. Some levels have flying birds or dragon heads that harass you by stealing your blocks or knocking you down to the bottom of the stage, while others have alligators or rockets that attack you from the bottom or side. To counteract these hazards, each board also releases power ups. Another neat feature is you can correct a misplaced block, in most cases. If you dropped a block in the wrong position and it left a gap, you can simply grab the correct block and move it between the blocks to make a seamless fit. This is a welcome addition because your stack must be solid; if you stack the blocks too high and there are gaps in the wall, it will crumble down to the first solid row of blocks.
In most Tetris games, you control the block itself and its direction, and whatever block you get is what you can use. In Eggmania, you control the egg character, and he can grab any block that is making its way down the level. If you grab the wrong block, you can drop it and grab another, which is an awesome feature, in my opinion. However, by dropping the block, you lose precious time to your opponent, and in this game, you are constantly looking at the other half of the screen to see how far ahead or behind your opponent is. When used in a complete row, special blocks – denoted by glowing stars in the middle – will add more blocks to your stack. If you place your blocks in just the right way, you can achieve some extreme combos that can catapult you into the lead.
While limited in variety, power ups are wisely chosen and can either help you or hurt you. In the aiding category are the block replacement power ups, which will fill in gaps in your wall, jumping power ups, and speed power ups. Among the harmful ones are hammer power ups, which will instantly crumble a few rows and possibly knock your egg off the stack, lightning power ups, which will create a lightning storm over your enemy and knock him off the stack (beware – the storm will also affect your side), and bomb power ups, which can knock you off or destroy blocks, but they can be picked up and thrown back. Make sure the bomb power ups are about to explode time before throwing them, or you WILL regret it!
The audio in Eggmania: Eggstreme Madness is simple but effective. Blocks stack, bombs explode, and crumbling towers make their presence known. The music, on the other hand, is great. It’s light-hearted and has a pop feel to it. It usually sets the theme of the board, for example the fairgrounds board has carnival-type music, and the haunted house board has spooky music. Good, effective, and pleasant sounds.
There are ton of extras packed into this game, starting with the wide variety of game play modes. In bomb mode, your sole purpose is to destroy the other player’s tower before the other players destroys yours; solo mode has you building your tower while trying to rack up the most points; survival mode is where you get NO time to breathe between defeating one opponent and taking on another; in tournament mode, up to 8 players must battle it out to see who is the best, in either standard egg mania mode, or the more hectic bomb mode; and custom mode, where you have complete control over every aspect of the match, literally. You can control everything that happens, from time limits, which blocks get dropped, which power ups are used, and other extra options, such as previously-mentioned menacing monsters and birds. You can even control your opponent’s setup, which gives you the possibility of making the game lop-sided. This is one of the only games that truly gives you a custom option and means it.
The game also features extras that you can unlock along the way, like new egg characters to carry your blocks. They have appropriate names, like as eggy, yolko, or the master of the all, yolko-oona. Each egg has its own introduction that indicates its character, from funky disco eggs to the evil devil egg Bebub. You can also unlock more game modes as you complete the single player stages.
This game is a winner in my book – while it might not have the latest in 3D graphics, the sheer magnitude of options and original game play is awesome and what keeps me playing. For any gamer who thinks that this game is strictly for kids, I suggest that they try this game and see how easily they can put down the controller. The folks at Kemco have done excellent work on Eggmania: Eggstreme Madness because it’s held my interest for far longer than any FPS or RPG, and I’m still playing it, so I can say with great confidence that this is yet another worthplaying title. Game should be in stores this week, PICK IT UP!