Kablooey

Kablooey

Kablooey
Kablooey

Kablooey is a somewhat entertaining puzzle game.  It is both a follower and precursor to a number of puzzle games in this category.  The game is challenging, and you feel a certain sense of accomplishment each time you clear a stage.

Standard grid-based game with bombs to deal with
Standard grid-based game with bombs to deal with

The concept is somewhat novel for the era.  Tile-based game.  You have to walk around and blow up bombs in a particular order such that you don’t fall in the water, or get blown up.  My biggest complaint is that the game tries to do too much at once.  You have a limited amount of time, and you have a limited number of lives (but infinite continues, so what’s the point?), and you can die just by stepping in the wrong direction by mistake.  I much prefer puzzle games when they don’t try to also put an adventuresque element to it. If they had made it now, they’d also throw in some sort of leveling system, and achievements.  Instead of all the clutter, I wish they’d just focus on the puzzles.  Make them challenging enough on their own so that you don’t have to taunt the player with making them fall off the edge because they pushed the wrong direction.  Chu-chu Rocket is masterful at this sort of game.  You don’t get frustrated when you get it wrong.  You just try again.  Here, you have to try again not only when you get the puzzle wrong, but also when you run out of time, hit an enemy,  scratch your nose and nudge the d-pad.  It doesn’t add anything to the game and takes a lot away.

You can see part of the game board layout from an aerial view, but not all of it.
You can see part of the game board layout from an aerial view, but not all of it.

I also wish they’d just show you the whole game board at the start of the stage.  I get that they’re trying to make it more challenging, but it doesn’t end up that way. You have to move, pause, move some more, pause again, to get in the whole stage.  It’s basically impossible to do them in one go.  You have to die a few times to learn the layout.  You just automatically run through each level at the start and then suicide to see the layout.  You have infinite continues. Why not?  Would have been easier to just give the player a flyover at the start of the stage, at least.

Verdict: Kablooey gets  a lot right: interesting concept, challenging puzzles.  But it suffers from trying to do too much, adding a lot of things that just frustrate the player without making the game more enjoyable or challenging.  I suppose that approach is forgivable for the early nineties.  Nowadays, Popcap games has learned the lessons from the trailblazing of games like Kablooey and makes much more fun puzzle games.  Oh, and the music is repetitive.

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Dragon View

DID YOU KNOW that Dragon View for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System utilises MODE 7 GRAPHICS?! Do you even know what Mode 7 means?! Neither do I, but I’ve heard it’s in Mario Kart and it’s probably the menace behind this ugly-ass overworld as well.

U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi!  Yo' ugly!
You ain’t got no alibi!

It just goes to show that after 15+ years, game developers still haven’t figured out that overworlds suck and get in the way of, you know, PLAYING THE ACTUAL GAME. The Mode 7 sections of Dragon View are probably only there so that Kemco could advertise it on the box art, and really only serve as a vehicle for getting from level to level (it’s only appropriate then, that when I collided with a shrub next to a doorway, I had to reverse out, steer, and drive back in as if parking a bus).  As I drove my magic bus through fields of green, watching poorly redrawn sprites blink in and out of the frame, seeing enemies flutter towards me like spotted silver clouds, I thought to myself, perhaps this is the ‘dragon view’. Perhaps this is how a dragon views his world; here and gone in the blink of an eye; his enemies reduced to tiny, silver clouds.

If there's one positive thing about my overworld experience, it's that I found a 3D Tri-force on the ground, which will please Zelda fans to no end (OMG 3D Zelda before Zelda 64!!!).
If there’s one positive thing about my overworld experience, it’s that I found a 3D Triforce on the ground, which will please Zelda fans to no end.

When I hit a silver cloud, I got a taste of the real game. And that is, side-scrolling slash ’em up (slmup) action. It was kind of like bullfighting once I’d worked out the patterns.  Slash them front on, move out of their path, let them charge like a moron, then get behind them now that they’re facing the wrong way and stab them in the back like the yellow-bellied coward I am. These encounters are good for level-grinding, which I needed to do to stop dying in the actual game. Thing is, I could avoid them altogether by simply driving around the silver clouds.

When I wasn’t getting lost or killed in the overworld, I was speaking with villagers in a strange narrated format (“a blessing upon your house, sire”, he said, “and upon your children, and your children’s children”) and doing fetch-quests for them.  Then I’d get a priest to record my valiant deeds [save game] and trudge my way through the overworld again to find whatever damned thing I was supposed to find, and bring it back.  One such example was having to go to Tylon’s storeroom (which is a cave filled with demons and A GIANT SCORPION) across the other side of the overworld to get him some more dynamite, so that he could make some more bombs for me, so that I could blow up some fallen rocks, so that a lady could get home via Galys Pass.  Now, if you hear your grandparents jabber on about how they had to walk 50 miles to school everyday barefoot in the winter snow, you can tell them to shut their damn faces.  Here’s why:

This is "on the way home" for your typical Dragon View shopkeeper.
This is “on the way home” for your typical Dragon View shopkeeper.

Notice the falling rocks, the craggy cliff face and the skeleton wedged under a rock! Hot-damn this game is hardcore.  More hardcore than your grandma, bitches.