Saturday, March 04, 2006

Nuclear Age

Name: Nuclear Age
Author: PlainX group
License: Freeware

All of the entries are in for the Caiman Free Games Easter Contest. There are about 100 entries. After my Puzzle Bunnies, the next best puzzle game in the bunch is Nuclear Age. Ok, maybe it is better than Puzzle Bunnies, but PB has an Easter theme and NA doesn't; so there!

Nuclear Age is a nice remake of Stone Age. The goal of each level is get from the entry point to the exit. Unfortunately, there is no direct path. Instead you have to use the platform tiles to get across the voids. The platform tiles have arrows on them which indicate the direction or directions they can be moved. Once you start moving a platform tile, it keeps moving until it hits another object. If your character happens to be on a platform tile when you move it, he/she/it moves along with the platform tile and hopefully on towards the exit. Since the platform tiles do not stop until they hit something, you have to plan ahead and use other platform tiles to block.

There are a couple of other tile types. There are breakable tiles which can only be walked on once. There are keys and locked doors, and as always there are teleporters. A simple and sweet design.

Nuclear Age comes with 60 levels spread over 4 worlds. Each world has a different graphic set for the tiles. The levels are well designed and well paced. Some levels are a bit tricky. There were a couple of levels which at first I thought were impossible, but eventually figured out what I was missing. Each time, I thought to myself, "I should have seen that sooner." Also, some levels have a few extra platform tiles just to throw you off. A level editor is included.

Now let me tell you the things about Nuclear Age which I think could be improved. There are two design choices which do not agree with. Every level comes with a time limit. The time limit is rarely a factor, but it is annoying on a few levels. (Hint: edit byte 0x70 in a *.sam file in the levels directory to change the time limit.) The other suspect design choice is that you have to complete each level in order before you can attempt the next. If you get stuck on one level, the game becomes very unfun. These are my usual complaints about a lot of puzzle games.

One thing about the game which confused me at first is that platform tiles can be moved even if your character is not on them. In fact, you have to do this most levels. This brings me to a more serious problem with Nuclear Age: the controls. You use the mouse to select platform tiles and arrow keys to move them. One way to manage the controls to switch between the mouse and arrow keys with your right hand. Another way is mouse with right hand and arrows with left hand. This is uncomfortable, but my choice. I wish you could do everything with the mouse or be able to remap the arrows to "asdw". Maybe all the Nuclear Age programmers are left-handed and use the mouse with their left hand?

In the end, Nuclear Age is a very enjoyable game. I hope it does well in the contest.


At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your site is far under known. You put a lot of work into reviewing these games pretty much each week. I hope you continue to keep it up. And I'll be adding you to my favorites list.


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