Monday, February 22, 2010

Gaming For Nomads Part 2: I'm Missing Hockey While Writing This...

By Annie Wright

..And it's ok. First and foremost among the reasons for the ok-ness is the fact that the regular season is on hold for the 2010 Olympics. My NHL loyalties lie firmly and staunchly with Detroit, but I am not ashamed to admit that I have a little trouble being as strict with my support of Team USA (at least for the men's team), because quite of few of my boys are Canadian, Finnish, and yes, Russian. Of course, in the time between writing this and publishing this, Team USA has done their best to make the idea of NOT supporting them while being a U.S. citizen seem like an incredibly stupid thing to do. Rafalski, you are a genius and a rock star, and I'll be happy for you if you win the gold. However, I'm having a hard time hoping for the unanimously crushing defeat of Russia.

I know what you're thinking, "She's a communist". Yeah, I get that a lot, but it's not true. I'll have you all know that I complain about taxes, spend my paycheck on stuff I don't need, love shareware AND I eat Rice Krispies for breakfast because, like Douglas Coupland, I believe that Snap, Krackle, and Pop are a thinly-veiled reference to the Trilateral Commission, but UNLIKE Coupland, I think that's just dandy.

Also, I test drove this game, Red Remover, just because of its name. So there. Not a commie. However, during my title-driven quest to quench my red-blooded, American Lust for Free Things That Take Up Time (because of, you know, taxes and stuff) , I DID actually discover the most satisfying chunk of puzzle-game crack since Bejeweled. And don't act like you haven't lost a few hours of your lives here and there to Bejeweled, dear readers, because YOU KNOW YOU HAVE.

Anyhow, Red Remover is, once again, pretty simple in concept, as many puzzle games are. There are red blocks (which are described as "miserable") that you can make disappear by clicking on them. Anything that is being supported by them is subject to gravity when the selected blocks are removed, including green blocks, which the player is actually trying to KEEP in the frame. So: get rid of red without losing green. Sounds pretty damned anti-communist to me.

After making it through a few initially easy levels, a few new rules are introduced. Blue blocks are added to the mix. These are neutral; it doesn't matter if they stay or go, as long as you preserve the green blocks and axe all the red. I should mention, at this point, that the blocks all have faces. The red blocks look downright desolate, until they are set free, at which point their expressions change to nothing short of rapturous. The green blocks, of course, are irritatingly blithe all the time, as are the blue blocks, and if you are anything like me, you maybe delay the ultimate solving of a level or two in favor of dropping the cheerful idiots to their doom (and then feel like a jerk when you can't actually solve the level in earnest as quickly as you might like).

Additionally, after a few more levels, the concept of multiple gravities is introduced. This means that the blocks, when released, will "fall" in the direction towards which their faces are oriented. For example, this rule, when applied to a standard emoticon, would mean that this guy ----> ":-(" would appear to zoom out of the frame to the right, because his respective gravity acts on him this way. And it only gets more complicated from there.

This is definitely one that you need to stick with through the initial easy levels, because it does get pretty challenging after a while. And your progress will be automatically saved, provided you avoid clearing your browser cache or, if this is not an option due to the fact that you were looking at questionable things on Grandma's video poker machine, you can register with the site.

The game has a rating of "97% liked", and there is even a walkthrough tab in the comments section in case you get stuck. And believe me, you think you won't, and then you get into the early 30s and can't solve them in a matter of seconds anymore...

...Or maybe I have just allowed myself to become too distracted by watching Team Russia pound the Czech Republic's ass. Again, not a communist, but God help me, I AM a Federov fan, even after his salary nonsense and subsequent departure. Because after all, Sergei isn't a communist either. I bet he even plays Red Remover in his spare time, and if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me.