WiiWare | Unconditional Studios / MACHINE | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 800 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote (sideways); Classic Controller
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12th March 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
When you first begin playing bittos+ with the standard gameplay options, it may seem a tad confusing but after a couple minutes, you'll get the hang of it. On the right-hand side, players will have a quota of shapes that they need to place on the board before they can move to the next level. Players earn points by using these Tetris-like shapes to form boxes consisting of 4 squares or more. You simply aim your cursor using the D-Pad, rotate the shape if desired using the 1 Button, and press the 2 Button to place it on the board. Of course, this is when you play with the Wii Remote held on its side. The game also features additional control schemes to choose from. Players can hold the Wii Remote in a vertical fashion by using the pointer to aim, and using the B and A Buttons to rotate and place the shapes. You can even use the Classic Controller to play as well, so it all depends on whichever scheme works best for you. For some reason there are some programming inconsistencies, and you can't use the 'Pointer' style in all modes of play but most will probably opt to hold the Wii Remote in a horizontal fashion anyhow.
Forming multiple boxes in succession can net players chains and combos to earn even more points. Over time, squares you've chained together will create bittos, or small explosions. If you've managed to lay shapes down quickly, after a few seconds, you'll find that the connected shapes will explode at a similar pace. Stray squares that are not connected to any other adjacent blocks will solidify over time, and change to a dark colour. Once these blocks become solid, the only way to get rid of them is by creating small explosions around them. If left unchecked, these solid blocks will multiply to the point that your game will end if there are too many of them on-screen. However, if you place blocks around them while they're forming, they'll instantly return to normal, saving you much hassle. On occasion, crystallized shapes will appear in your sidebar for you to use as well. The explosions that these shapes create are much more significant and these can be especially helpful in destroying those troublesome solid squares. While the game does contain some underlying depth, it doesn't require a ton of forethought.
In addition to the Normal mode, the game features a series of other selections that make bittos+ have more weight as a package. Alongside the standard Adventure option, the game also features two unlockable modes: Time Attack and Survival Mode. While Time Attack is self-explanatory, Survival mode adds some variety to the game, and is ultimately much more gripping than the other two modes. This mode will keep you alert by trouncing you with tons of solid blocks forming constantly. If you don't stay on top of things by placing blocks at a quick pace, the game will be over before you know it! This mode will likely be considered to be the highlight of the game, especially for those who desire something more fast-paced, without becoming too intense.
Each mode also sports a good level of customization which allows players to tailor the experience to the type of mood they are in. The length of playtime, the grid size, and even the intensity of the mode can be toggled with the two 'Mellow' and 'Wired' modes. In essence, the game tries to appeal to both casual and hardcore audiences and it does a good job at doing just that. Early stages in the Adventure mode may be rather drab for those who are used to puzzle games of a more exciting nature, and this is where the 'Wired' setting comes into play. In almost every mode you play, there's some leeway for players to work steadily or speedily at their own pace.
Presentation-wise, the game isn't really a marvel to look at but it works. The developers utilized the nature theme really well and it feels like a unified theme. The music in the game is rather tame and low-impact, and it even contains a bit of ambience in the background too with chirping birds and more. Although you might not think so at first, the game's visuals tie in nicely with the gameplay, especially when you get to later stages. When a solid block starts off as an individual unit, and begins to multiply into a swarm, you can likely see resemblances to that of a forest fire. In essence, you need to use the squares to "stop the fire from spreading", or "put it out before it grows", as it were. It's pretty clear that the developers thought this through rather than having just random backgrounds, and its these kinds of touches that give bittos+ a stronger appearance.
It's no secret that some puzzle games are over far too quickly, but can the same be said of this game? Well, there's definitely some replay value to be had and that's great. However, the game comes across as a bit lighter than it could have been. Much like Pop 'Em Drop 'Em Same Game, bittos+ contains a bunch of leaderboard tables for each individual gameplay setting, which will likely encourage players to try different ways of playing each time they boot it up. There's also a series of achievements that can be unlocked depending on how well you do in each of the gameplay modes. However, had there been a multiplayer battle mode, the game definitely would've felt more complete. It could've been a lot of fun to face-off against a friend in a Survival-type battle, and those that give this a go will likely feel the same way. But the game does feature multiple profiles allowing different members of the family to join in on the fun, which is always a plus in games like this.
bittos+ is far from amazing and sure, there are better puzzles on the service but this is still a fun, challenging game that you might want to consider. Had this been 1,000 Points, I would've had a harder time recommending it, but for $8, it's a decent purchase. It may not be as strong of a showing as it could have been, but there's still a lot of fun to be had with this one.
23/30 - Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Great concept that works surprisingly well, controls are very accessible, Survival Mode is frantic yet fun
Presentation 7/10 - Visuals are fairly straightforward; look nicer in later levels, original forest ambience is used as a unified theme
Enjoyment 4/5 - Gets more enjoyable under the more hectic gameplay settings, can work at your own pace, casual/hardcore mix
Extra Content 4/5 - Good number of modes, achievements to measure progress, multiple save slots, records, could've used a multiplayer mode
Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)