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Primrose - DSiWare Review

Game Info

DSiWare | Sabarasa | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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30th September 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

I think there's a fine line between enjoyment and boredom when it comes to games of a very simple nature. With titles like this, there's a risk that the average consumer may find it to be too simplistic in structure to be truly fun. And I think this well describes what Sabarasa tried to do with Primrose. Their latest DSiWare release isn't one of those games you'll want to rush out to buy. But if you have an extra $2 to spare and are willing to spend time with it, it's a decent way to pass some time.

    The concept affords room for a great deal of freedom and experimentation. The game starts you off with a pair of tiles to work with, placing them on the grid one after the other. While the first tile can be placed anywhere you like, the game forces you to place the second along the horizontal or vertical axis of where the first tile is located. Beyond this, players have no other external restrictions to worry about. You're free to take as long as you like to plan your next move, since there's no timer to keep things moving.

    To score points, you must surround tiles of one colour, with those of another. When this happens, tiles in the middle flip over and disappear, while the remaining ones retain the colour from the set of tiles that were in the center. If you plan things carefully across the board, you can get a string of combos going where multiple flipping actions will transpire on screen. And this sequencing is the best part of the whole the game.

    The box on the top screen features a countdown tally that reduces as tiles are placed. Once this reaches 0, it resets and adds a new colour into the mix. By the time this happens, the board is likely to be already full of tiles rendered unreachable by dead ends. As a result, adding something new will ensure that your game doesn't last for much longer. This is exactly why it's important to give careful consideration to how you can interact with the tiles early on.

    As you play, calming piano music goes on in the background to a backdrop of a tree-filled plain that occasionally changes colours. There are also small white pixels floating across the screen to suggest the presence of wind blowing things about. The entire atmosphere is light, keeping game-altering gimmicks and extensive actions to a minimum.

    When your game finally ends, there's a sense of motivation that keeps you going to uncover the hidden depth that lies underneath the sheer simplicity of it all. Placing tiles without much forethought is sure to leave you with an empty feeling inside, as if the game were unfulfilling. However, looking beyond those initial thoughts in favor of something more productive is the only way you'll find Primrose to be more than just your average puzzler. 

    This hardly require perfections on your part, as the system does allow for mistakes as you try to discipline yourself to see the value of advance planning. But it's clear that the creator of this game envisioned people to play a certain way, and after spending an adequate amount of time with it, you'll be able to discern what this style is. As you try to do so, you'll likely find yourself thinking about Primrose long after you've completed a quick game.

    What's also commendable about this release is its Colour Blind mode, something special for those who may have trouble recognizing the different coloured tiles. With this option active, all tiles become stamped with a shape icon that helps you distinguish the tiles from one another. Even those without vision-related problems will still want to make use of this feature to make the square stand out a bit more.

    Most will brush Primrose aside as being too simple for its own good. But if you have a willingness to explore all the game has to offer, you'll discover that the mechanics do have a measure of depth to them. You may not get your money's worth when compared with other 200-Point titles. But if you think you can get used to the lack of structure, give it a try next time you're looking for something cheap.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 8/10 - No restrictions of time, very simple mechanics, executing combos is the meat of the game, new colours get added
Presentation 7/10 - Squares have a sense of quality to them, shape icons are nice, very soothing to play thanks to the music and backdrop
Enjoyment 2/5 - Gratifying to see a sequence of combos, can get boring for some, lack of structure may be a turn-off
Extra Content 2/5 - Only the main gameplay to speak of with no variations, Colour Blind mode, high scores give you some motivation, cheap asking price

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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