Fusion Review

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Publisher: Reflexive Entertainment
Developer: InSane Play

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium 500 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Windows 98 or more recent operating system

Reflexive is responsible for one of the best Arkanoid clones ever made, Ricochet. As a team of developers, Reflexive has worked on major PC titles such as Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader and Star Trek: Away Team. Reflexive also publishes casual PC games through its online site, Reflexive Arcade. That's where you'll find games such as Ricochet Xtreme, and now, Fusion. As with most such puzzle games, Fusion is simple to learn, entertaining, and draws you in for just one more session when you intend to quit.

Kyle Ackerman

Fusion is a game in the style of the coin-op game Puzzle Bobble, in which you eliminate objects that crowd the play area by grouping objects of a similar color. Gameplay in Fusion is simple: you slide tiles from two sides of a 9x9 grid. Tiles of various colors pop in from the other side of the grid, encroaching on the sides you defend. You can slide tiles in from either of your two sides, and if that tile strikes another tile of the same color, all connecting tiles of that color are "popped" (eliminated from play). Pop as many tiles as possible to succeed, and popping large groups simultaneously yields bonuses to your score.

There are three basic styles of play. In Classic Mode, you must destroy a specific quota of tiles to finish a round. While you consider where to place your tile, nine lights on the side of the board act as a timer, and when all are lit, more tiles will push on from that side of the board. If you let tiles get pushed off the edge of the board, you lose. Each level gets progressively harder, adding more colors and complexity. Puzzle Mode is similar to Classic Mode, but instead of a timer determining when more tiles enter the board, new tiles appear every other time you slide a tile onto the board. That way, you can take as long as you need to decide where to make your next move. In either mode, once you complete a level, you get bonus points for each empty square you protected.

Survival Mode functions much like Classic Mode, but has no levels. The mass of tiles in the upper corner of the play area just keeps expanding, more colors appear, and you play for as long as you can survive. Since Classic Mode and Survival Mode both work off a timer rather than waiting for you to move, you have to be careful not to slide new tiles on the board just as the tiles on the board expand, lest you miss your target when everything moves. In all cases, the level of difficulty you choose determines how many colors and special pieces you encounter at the start of play.

There are special board pieces to make life more interesting. Special items slide on top of the tile you push onto the board, and the last special item you pick up determines what happens when your tile hits the general mass. Bombs destroy a big block of tiles. Rockets destroy all tiles in your tile's path. Bent rockets destroy all tiles from the point of impact in a jagged path to the top corner of the board. Rainbow-colored discs cause your tiles color to match whatever it hits, and rainbow-colored firecrackers destroy all tiles of the same color as the one you pushed onto the board. There are bonus score items, and blocking wall tiles. The wall blocks can be destroyed for bonus points by hitting them a few times, but will otherwise get in your way and prevent you from placing tiles where you wish.

The graphics in Fusion are simple, colorful and remarkably clear. A puzzle game doesn't need complex patterns or heavy-handed animations. Graphic simplicity lets the player search for the visual patterns that make the game. The sound, too, is simple, appropriate and pleasant. All around, Fusion is straightforward and entertaining, with good production values, that can keep you entertained (or keep you procrastinating) for a good long while. The only real problem with the title is that the full version costs just under $20, which is awfully high for a simple, casual game. Fusion is great, it's just that at that price, casual gamers have a lot of alternatives that offer more. As such, the price is all that's holding down Fusion's rating. Fortunately, Reflexive is offering a free trial. You can download the full game and try it out for sixty minutes of play. That will give you enough time to decide whether Fusion is worth $20 to you.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 23, 2003 2:51 PM.

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