Saturday, September 23, 2006

Logical Stones 2006

Title: Logical Stones 2006
Author: Face5 Team
License: Commercial

My first blog entry over a year ago was on Logical Stones. It is one of my favorite puzzle games ever. Since the freeware Logical Stones was released, Logical Stones 2004 and recently Logical Stones 2006 have come out as commercial games. This week I am going to review Logical Stones 2006.

Logical Stones 2006 is a platform puzzler. You control a little space ship. Your goal is to push, pull, fly, conveyor belt, whatever you have to do to get all of the stones to the "X" exit tiles. The stones are colored wire-framed cubes. When a cube reaches an "X" exit tile, it evaporates.

In Logical Stones 2006, there are 6 cube types, each with different properties. The basic blue cubes can only be pushed about one at a time with the ship. The red cubes be used to push one other cube. The green cubes can be flown around. The crystal cubes can only be pushed around like blue cubes, but they have the added restriction that they can only fall one space without breaking. These four stones made up the original Logical Stones game. Logical Stones 2004 added the yellow cube which can be pulled. Logical Stones 2006 adds the while cube which are very light and can be raised up if you get the ship underneath it. They also fall slower than you fly. So, you can push one off a ledge and fly under it.

There are several other items in the game. Lifts and switches allow you to move cubes about. There are teleporters and conveyor belts. Converters change cubes to another color. Factories create new cubes of a given color. These new cubes can be useful, but you have eliminate them also in order to complete the level.

The resulting puzzles are exquisite. Each level requires careful planning using one stone to block or fill in a gap for another. Logical Stones 2006 contains 100 levels. For the most part, the level design is very good and quite challenging. There are a couple of duds. This is not a game for the weak. If you are new to Logical Stones, I highly suggest you play the freeware original first before moving on to either the 2004 or 2006 version. I found the levels in the 2006 version slightly easier than the 2004 version, but there are still 6 levels which I have not completed.

I want to praise the level access model in Logical Stones 2006. The levels are arranged in a 10 by 10 grid. Initially, only the 4 levels at the center of the grid are available to be played. Once a level is completed, the neighboring levels in the grid become available for playing. This is a nice middle ground between having every level available and requiring them to be completed sequentially. And as you work your way out, the levels become harder.

There is not much bad to say about Logical Stones 2006. The new white stones do not add much to the game, but it is nice to have 100 new levels. My biggest complaint is that there is no level editor. I realize that they make money off the levels and level packs, but I think it is bad form that they did not include an editor. They owe it us paying customers. My only other complaint is that the game is expensive. It costs 19.99 euros which translated into 28.16 dollars on the day I bought it.

There is a forum for Logical Stones 2006. For spam reasons, you have to enter a username ("face5") and password ("forum"). Although, there are not many entries at this point. For the previous version, these forums have been quite active and useful for a hint or two.

One oddity is that the 16 levels in the demo are non contained in the full game. Be sure to play both.


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