WiiWare | Hudson Soft | Official Website | 1-4 Players | Out Now (Europe) | 500
Controller compatibility: Wii remote (sideways); Classic Controller
Reviewer: Billy White
When it comes to the simple "same colours touching" puzzlers these days, it's getting harder and harder to know what to expect. From hits such as Bejeweled (not a Wii game, in case you're confused) to the incredibly innovative PLATTCHEN twist 'n' paint, developers seem to be able to think up more and more ways to create something new with each one, so it's nice to see something much simpler, but still brilliantly addictive, in this new WiiWare game from Hudson.
In Pop Them, Drop Them SAMEGAME, the idea is to try and clear a grid by removing similarly coloured blocks. If you see two or more of the same coloured block alongside each other, you can click on any one of them to remove them all from the game, and gain points. As you play, no new blocks are added, which means that you have to try and think about where you are moving, since you are likely to end up with several single blocks left at the end if you mindlessly delete all the blocks as you see them.
For those who don't care too much about thinking where their next move will be, there is the option of going back move by pressing 1 to undo their previous turns, right back up to before the first move you made in the level, which is a handy addition that doesn't make the game too easy, but keeps it's simplicity intact. The rest of the game is controlled via the buttons on the Wii remote, and although this may seem strange at first, it works really well, and even improves upon what the pointer controls would have been if they existed, since each of the icons is so small that it would have been hard to be completely accurate all the time. Since no motion controls are required here, you'll also find that Classic Controller compatibility is also available, although this offers little difference to the playing experience.
Before each puzzle, you can choose from several different factors which vary how the game will be played. You can change the grid size and amount of colours on the grid at once, and also switch bombs on and off. Bombs are activated when you select them (as you would with a normal block), and destroy any icons in a nearby radius, and can complicate or make a game easier in equal measure. All of the different combinations that you can choose from in each puzzle are recorded, and when you play a puzzle using the same settings, you can compare your highest scores from before accurately, rather than having one set of high scores for each grid size, which is a nice addition to the game.
Each puzzle doesn't take long and can be completed from ten seconds to about a minute depending on the grid size. Every time you clear a grid, a new one will appear and you'll continue playing with the addition of ten thousand more points until you end up with game over. Thankfully, the addictive nature of the game means that you'll likely hit the "retry" button straight after, and keep on playing over and over again, helped further by the short nature of the levels.
If the single player mode doesn't appeal too much to you, there are three different multiplayer options. In "Fame Game", you aim to get the best score in a certain time limit as you play through endless reams of different grids; in "Shame Game", you have to try and aim for the lowest score by completing the grid and getting minus points and in "Blame Game", everyone plays on the same grid rather than their own, to try and aim for the highest score, whilst losing points for hitting the wrong colours.
The only one that we really have a problem with is the latter (Blame Game), mainly because players who are aiming on the right hand side of the grid will often end up messing up due to the grid moving inwards to the bottom left corner as the blocks in each column vanish, meaning that the blocks will constantly keep moving away. If however, all the players aim for the bottom left corner, the game goes a bit out of control, so the game would have just been better if more blocks appeared from the top of the screen as others were deleted.
A couple of extra features based around the multiplayer modes include the revised scoring system for two player mode, which changes the points to make it more fun when playing with just one friend, the different layouts available, with horizontal or vertical playing fields available in two player mode and smaller grids replacing lower resolution screens in games with more players, and the addition of the optional colour block feature, where players will be prevented from selecting a certain colour for a short while every time you clear a large number of blocks at once. These are all welcome additions and make the multiplayer mode feel a lot more than just a tacked on version of the normal game, whilst giving further reasons to play it with a friend.
If there's one problem with SAMEGAME, it's that the blocks in the grids might give you a headache due to their small sizes. If they were any bigger, the game would have to compensate by making the grids smaller, but we wouldn't recommend playing this for prolonged periods of time on a small screen. Even on the smallest nine by nine grid, the blocks are still the same size, though, which feels like a missed opportunity since the game could have quite easily expanded the size of the grid rather than leave most of the screen showing off the background.
In a similar move to Tetris Party, this game includes several different backgrounds and music themes to keep the experience fresh as you play. All of these are available from the start, but when you need to wish to select a different one, you'll find no option to preview it which means you'll have to memorize which theme goes with which number on the menu if you want to play one that you particularly like. The good thing is that none of these themes are particularly bad though, and if you wish, there is also a selection of themed blocks as well to brighten up the game.
Pop Them, Drop Them SAMEGAME offers just what you want in a puzzler: gameplay that can be completed with or without lots of thought or quick reactions, a multiplayer mode that feels more like you're having fun rather than thinking with a friend, and of course, the all important "one more go" factor, making you want to keep on playing until your remote's batteries die. Presentational problems aside, this is a great little game using less than 50 blocks, at the great price of just 500 points. If you're going to get a budget puzzler on Wii, you can't do much better than get SAMEGAME.
Very simple, addictive and suitable for everyone
A variety of interchangeable themes add to the variety, but the music isn't really memorable and the icons are often too small to focus on for a long time
If you don't get addicted to the fun of SAMEGAME, you're officially braindead
For 500 Wii points, this could have just been a bare bones puzzler, but the multiplayer and gameplay options make this feel like so much more