Hot puzzle action! I guess... - Review By Fragmaster
As soon as I got my hands on Wetrix+, I knew it was going to be the best puzzle game available on the Dreamcast. Why? Because, as of right now, it's the only puzzle game available for the Dreamcast. So much for competition.
Wetrix+ is a water-based, 3D puzzle game that challenges players to keep their landscapes from leaking. Sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?
I've got to admit, when I first popped Wetrix+ in the Dreamcast and played a couple games, I thought it was a piece of junk. I didn't really understand why things were happening or why I was losing so quickly, seemingly through no fault of my own. But after reading the manual, playing some more, and making some mistakes, I began to realize that Wetrix+ is actually a pretty cool game. And quite addictive too, if you aren't careful.
Multiplayer mode is surprisingly fun, especially if you have stupid friends!
I won't attempt to explain all aspects of Wetrix's gameplay, but here's a brief summary: Tetris-block shaped "uppers" and "downers" fall from the sky onto a flat landscape floating in space. Uppers raise the ground, allowing you to create walls to hold water. Downers lower ground, allowing you to create canyons or merge lakes. At the beginning of the game, you'll be provided with enough uppers to build a small dam. Then pieces of water or "water bubbles" begin to drop from the sky. These must be placed within your dams, or they will leak out of the landscape. The water flows realistically, and blue arrows show where water is leaking out. If too much water leaks, your leak indicator will max out and the game will be over.
But wait, there's more: shortly, rain will begin to fall. Unlike water bubbles, you can't control the weather. This means your entire landscape must be enclosed to prevent rain from leaking out. And before long, bombs and fireballs will drop from the sky. Bombs blow up an entire chunk of landscape, creating a hole in the bottom where water can leak out. Fireballs evaporate lakes of water, and then there are the special events. You'll have to deal with earthquakes, rainbows, rubber ducks, mines, smart bombs, ice cubes, and more.
Here, the huge amount of stored water causes a score-multiplying rainbow to appear. Too bad that descending fireball will evaporate it all.
There are a bunch of gameplay modes to mess with, including a pretty darn fun multiplayer mode. Single player modes include classic, pro, practice, challenge, and handicap. The variety of modes make Wetrix+ fun for a wide variety of players, since younger players can play the easier handicap mode, newbies can learn how to play with the practice mode, and insane people with killer reflexes can go spastic with challenge mode. I personally found classic mode to be difficult enough for me, and spent most of my time with that.
Multiplayer pits two players head to head with a split screen. It plays pretty much like the single player game, except that there's an energy bar on the bottom of the screen. In the normal game, water evaporates with time and reduces the amount of water in the drain. In multiplayer mode, evaporated water doesn't reduce the amount of water in your drain, but it does charge up your energy bar. There are four levels of power on the energy bar, water, ice, quakes, and bombs. When you feel like causing your adversary some trouble, you can launch an attack on them. Depending on how charged up your energy bar is, you'll launch a water, ice, quake, or bomb attack. The higher the energy bar, the more powerful the attack.
Oh no! Ice! At least all your drinks will stay cold...
The graphics are pretty nice looking, but it's hard to rate the graphics in a puzzle game because they don't really matter very much. The special effects are well done, and the way the water looks and flows is particularly nice.
The music and sound are pretty good, and can easily be turned off if they get annoying. The interface is simple and easy to use.
There's not much to complain about in Wetrix+, outside of the problems that plague all games of this type. Obviously, if you don't like puzzle games like Tetris to begin with, there's no way Wetrix will change your mind. And like many other puzzle games, the amount of replay value and challenge is questionable, since you're usually playing for high score. There's also the learning curve to deal with, but with a little patience and some time with practice mode, you'll figure out what the heck is going on. Be sure to read the manual, too.
The only other bad thing I can think of is the fact that in multiplayer, the second player doesn't have any sounds. The first player does, but the second player doesn't. It doesn't really matter, but it is a bit odd.
The Final Word
Wetrix+ is about everything you'd want from a puzzle game. It's a great diversion, easy to learn but hard to master, and has a bunch of different modes to suit your skill level or mood. Plus, the multiplayer is actually pretty fun. If you're looking for something besides another fighting or racing game, give Wetrix+ a try, dam-it.
Developer: Zed Two
Highs: It's an addictive, fun puzzle game. Lots of gameplay modes and solid overall design.
Lows: It's a puzzle game, you may get bored of it quickly. Confusing at first.
Other: 1-2 players, VMU Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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