Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness Review

Developer: HotGen Studios Publisher: Kemco
Release Date: September 12, 2002 Also On: GCN, PS2 and Xbox

One of the problems that I have with Gamecube, is a lack of good puzzle games. I realize Nintendo Puzzle Collection is on the way, but I’ve been waiting just to find out a release date on it since I heard from E3 news that it was even being released here. Anyway, I’m rambling, and the point is that the Gamecube doesn’t have much to offer in the way of puzzle games. That fact made me more willing to try puzzle games that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried, and this one certainly fits that category.

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Brought to us by Kemco (publishers of Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure and Batman: Dark Tomorrow, both of which I have heard are not worth the discs they’re printed on), I initially assumed when I first noticed this game when glancing through GCN game auctions on e-bay that it probably wasn’t much. I, however, was intrigued at the possibility of there actually being something in the puzzle genre other than Tetris Worlds on the system, so I looked for more information, and what I found didn’t look half bad. When I actually went to my “local” (one hour away) game store to look for it and found it for only $20, I decided it was worth a shot. Now that we have the introductory information out of the way, let’s get on into the real review.

This is a puzzle game. As such, it doesn’t have dazzling 3D graphics or anything of that kind. The environments that the game takes place in are nicely drawn and colored, but seem a little too bright and cheery in many cases. The eggs themselves (more on that later) are animated well, as are the blocks. I don’t even have any major complaints about the menus. All things told, this category is pretty good for the type of game it is.

Words themselves can not describe the sheer addictiveness of the music in this game. Like the environments, the songs do seem a bit too cheerful in some cases, but it isn’t cheerful to the point where you want to puke by any means. The sound effects are pretty much typical puzzle game things, blocks setting down and the like.

No story is given, either in the manual or in the game. All you know is that for some reason you have to get up to the balloon at the top of the playing field before you drown for some reason. You don’t know the motive for getting up or the reason you fell out.

This is where the innovativeness of this game comes into play a lot. Instead of a typical Tetris game, the objective of Egg Mania is to build your tower up to the top and get into the balloon before the water level catches up to you and you drown. In this game, it’s not just position the pieces that fall from the top, but instead you actually have to control a character who is shaped like an egg (hence the name of the game) to grab the piece and set it where you want it. This egg can walk and jump, as you would expect.

It’s not as simple as it sounds, however. If you leave holes in your tower, and the water level reaches those holes, the level of your tower with the hole will get carried away by the water. This can be corrected by grabbing a piece and dropping down to the hole before the water level reaches it, but if not done fast, you will sacrifice precious time while being carried back up because you might have to purposely fall into the water to be carried to the top. Of course, there are in-level hazards that can knock you into the water also, as well as ones that can grab your pieces from you. Also, you have a structural integrity meter that if it reaches the red, much of your tower will collapse. Thus building in complete lines is your best course of action.

This is all well and good, and it executes well regardless of whether you’re just trying to beat the water or if you have another opponent. When you have opponents, it can get more fun because you can throw hammers or lightning bolts at them to knock them off their tower, or bombs that can do that or blow holes in their tower. However, this game only has two player support. This is a minor gripe, but with the GCN, it really should be four player.

There are many modes to this game, including the normal mode (you vs. computer), a solo mode where you try to get high scores, and a bomb mode where you hurl bombs at opponents and try to destroy their tower before they destroy yours. Either the normal mode or the bomb mode can be played against an opponent. The game also includes a survival mode where you try to defeat as many opponents consecutively as you can before you lose.

There are initially seven different eggs to choose from, and five more are unlockable if certain conditions are met. There are also about ten stages, including one unlockable one. There is, however, little point in trying to unlock the extra eggs because they all control exactly the same.

The only thing that absolutely destroys the gameplay is loading times. There is a thirty second load time (give or take, I haven’t actually timed it) between every level. Although while you are playing in the against the computer modes or with two players each opponent egg (second player if playing two player) has its own loading animation and those animations are quite fun to watch the first few times, such long loading times on a puzzle game are completely unforgiveable. In the one player mode, you have two animations, one with all the eggs walking on a disc and one with a giant red egg walking on a disc. To indicate how much loading time is left, a row of eggs in various colors walk along the bottom of the screen. When they take up the full screen, the loading is over. So, while the gameplay is fun, it is interrupted too much by the between-level loading animations.

The replay value comes from one of two things if you don’t have a human opponent to play with. First of all, there are four skill levels to the normal vs. computer mode and the survival mode, and secondly, there is the drive to get higher scores in solo mode. Perhaps the unlockables provide some replay value also if you are into that kind of thing. For the most part, replay value is proportionate to your drive to get high scores in the various modes.

This game is probably still $20 or less, so I would say buy it if you like puzzle games, otherwise maybe rent it if you can find a copy to rent and see what you think or ignore it.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6.9
Written by Martin Review Guide

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