Friday, April 07, 2006


Name: Hex-a-hop
Author: Tom Beaumont
License: Freeware

I have one word to describe Hex-a-hop: game-lock. I have not experienced game-lock recently, but Hex-a-hop did it to me. It felt so good. This is a nearly perfect logic game. It has simple rules and wonderful, tricky, ingenious levels. The presentation is flawless. I cannot say enough good things about this game. You should stop reading this right now, download Hex-a-hop, and start playing.

For some reason you are still reading. I don't understand, but so be it. Hex-a-hop is played on a hexagon grid. The objective of each level is to eliminate the green tiles. You control the little girl and direct her about the grid. Each green tile can only be walked on once. As you step off a green tile, it disappears. You have to choose your path wisely so as to avoid being trapped, because you cannot walk on water.

As you progress through the levels, new tile types and power ups are introduced which yield some really interesting puzzles. The light blue tiles, of which there are none in the screen shot, can be walked on twice. The first time you step off one, it becomes a green tile and then has to be walked on again in order to complete the level. The purple trampoline tiles bounce you over the next tile or water, and you land the tile two away. Walking a red spinner tile causes the six neighboring tiles to rotate clockwise about you. Stepping on a yellow tiles causes a laser to fire in the direction you just stepped. With a couple of exceptions, this destroys the next tile. There are ice tiles which you slide on until you hit a tile or slide off into the water. There are a few more things which you will discover as you play the game.

There are also raised tiles, both green and light blue. You cannot climb up onto raised tiles. However, when you eliminate all of the regular tiles of either color, the raise tiles of that color lower. You then have access to them. You have to plan just right so that you are in the correct place to eliminate these new green tiles. Another way to gain access to raised tiles is via dark blue elevator tiles.

There are 100 levels. As you complete levels, neighboring levels on the map screen become available. Most of the time, several levels are available. The unfinished levels are denoted by a black ball on the map screen. If you are stuck on one level, you can work on the others and come back to that tricky one later. This is a good design choice and gives the game a sense of exploration as you work through the levels, unlock new areas, and are introduced to new tile types without ever feeling that you are stuck. The quality and pacing of the levels is excellent. The level design, the heart of any puzzle game, is as good as it gets. I had many a-ha moments playing Hex-a-hop.

Just when you think you understand the game, Hex-a-hop throws in a new wrinkle. After completing 75 levels, you are told your score on the levels you have completed along with the par score for those levels. Your score is essentially the number of steps you have taken. Levels for which you have matched the par score appear in gold on map screen. When you have completed a level, but did not match the par score, it appears as a silver ball. Now the hard core Hex-a-hoppers have a new challenge: make par on every level and turn all those silver balls gold.

A sure way to tell that a game is good is look at the fan reaction. There is an active forum at Caravel Gams. This is a good place for hints. And one fan has created a web site where you can upload your save game file and see how you rate against the world. There are a couple of levels where fans have done better than the Hex-a-hops par score.

There are a few minor flaws in Hex-a-hop. Actually, these are not flaws, just parts of the game which are not perfect. One is that raised tiles partially obscure tiles behind them. Occasionally, this caused me to misclick. However, Hex-a-hop remembers your last eight or so moves. With right mouse clicks, you can undo any such mistakes. The ability to undo moves so easily is an obvious but brilliant design choice. Next, some of the rules are a little unclear. The effect of a laser on ice is one example. It does not destroy the ice because light goes through ice. Instead, the laser is split into two, 120 degrees to the left and the right. You have to learn how the various tiles interact. Another minor flaw is that the game does not have any audio. This did not bother me in the least, but it might be a negative to some. Lastly, there is no level editor. Looking at the levels.dat file with a hex editor, it does not look difficult to decipher. On the other hand, I am not sure anyone could make better levels.

There are several similar games to Hex-a-hop. Although, none is nearly as good. Here are four. All of them are played on a rectangular grid. I previously reviewed MASRDBE. Pozzo is a fun game. Although some of the later levels require some careful timing. Using Macromedia Flash, you can play Pyramids of Ra in Iso in your browser. Tilox is another web based game. It adds in jumps.


At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The optimal scores page is still maintained and has moved here.

At 2:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As of July 2009, there are still four optimal solutions not listed in the optimal scores page.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This game is GENIUS and its crazy to think the guy who made it just abandoned it, as hexahop has CLASSIC written all over it.

I have it for my Nokia 5800 touch screen and its a wonderfully challenging game.

I'd love to do some music for a future release,so i'll look into contacting the guy doing the conversions to mobile.

A 'CLASSIC' game up their with Tetris ANYDAY!

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Buy Kamagra said...

this really looks like hard, I don't know if I be able to complete a game like this, well I mean, I twenty-eight years old, my time as puzzle player has pass a long time ago.


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