Friday, May 05, 2006

Fire

Title: Fire
Author: St├ęphane Mitermite
License: Freeware
Website: http://stephane.mitermite.free.fr/index_en.html

I want to get one thing out of the way. This week's game, Fire, has a slightly dirty behavior. When you exit the program, it starts a web browser directed at the author's homepage. This is a bad thing. Besides the minor privacy issue, by automatically loading a webpage you can lose information if you already have a web browser running. The current version of Firefox opens this page in a new tab. However, previous versions of Firefox would open it in current window. This could cause you to lose data. This is a stupid thing for any game to do and right at the line of what I consider acceptable behavior for a program. Of course, many program do this. Others with stricter standards might want to skip this one. Some firewalls allow you block this sort of thing.

That aside, Fire is a simple and fun puzzle game. The objective is to put out all of the fires by having the ball roll over them. The game is played on a rectangular grid. You control two objects: the ball and the create. When moved, the ball or the create will continue moving until it hits something: a wall, the other object, or in the case of the create a fire. That is it. You cannot ask for simpler rules.



The interesting aspect of Fire is using the create and ball to block for each other in order to gain access to various parts of the maze. For the most part, the puzzles are not difficult but very enjoyable. There are some tricky ones but not many. You can often determine which fire or fires need to be put out last. This cuts down the search significantly. I found the most difficult levels to be those in which you have to use a fire to block for the create. This is something to keep in mind when you hit a tough one.

Two level sets containing 45 levels come with the game. There is an addition download containing 152 levels spread across 12 levels sets. If this is not enough, there is a level editor. In each level set, you have to complete level i to gain access to level i+1. In Fire, this is not as bad a problem as in other games due to the 14 level sets. If you get stuck on one puzzle, there are 13 other puzzles to work on.

Fire does have a couple of flaws besides the biggie mentioned in the first paragraph. First, every time you start the game, it asks you for a video resolution. It does not remember your selection from last time. It also does not remember which of the seven views you prefer. I prefer four, by the way. Second, the controls are a little awkward. The space bar is used to switch between controlling the ball and the create. Which one you currently control is displayed in the upper-right corner. However, it is easy to forget and send the wrong one off and have to start over. It would also be nice if there was an undo feature.

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