Atlus is known more for their RPG’s and quirky Japanese ports, but with their first Xbox Live Arcade release, they've dipped into decidedly different waters. Developed by Blitz Arcade, Droplitz is a puzzle game without a single doe-eyed manga character or spiky-haired protagonist to be found. So while the game may lack a certain charm and/or broodiness, it more than makes up for it with frantic puzzling action.
The mechanics of Droplitz are simple enough. Drops of golden goo are constantly flowing from faucets at the top of the board and you must ensure the goo ends up in collection bins at the bottom. This is done by rotating tiles until you have connected a continuous route in which the goo can flow. Creating one pathway is easy enough, but the hecticness of the game comes from multiple faucets and repositories. Each time a successful path is created, a purple glob of goo is released. The time it takes for that glob to reach its destination is your opportunity to create combos by branching off additional successful paths. Thus, your score multiplier increases and more purple globs are released, and so on. Once the last of these purple globs is collected, all of the tiles used in those combos are replaced with new dials and you must quickly go about constructing new plumbing. As you progress through the stages, the flow rate of goo increases. Once you run out of goo (represented by a meter on the left of the game board), it's game over.
Although all are based around the same idea, there are actually four different game modes included in Droplitz. The only one open at the onset is "Classic Mode" and it's pretty straightforward. You're looking to obtain high scores and doing so unlocks the nine background themes along with the nine different difficulty levels. The levels differ by the speed of flow and by the size of the boards. "Zendurance Challenge" is the second mode to open and lets you see how long you can last on a theme of your choice. Do well enough with "Zendurance" and you'll unlock "Power Up" mode. Not just a clever name, the nine levels available here allow you to employ tactics such as freezing the flow or blowing up a group of tiles. Obtain a score of 350,000 in "Power Up" and you'll open the last mode: "Infection". At the time I'm writing this review, there were only six players who have passed that mark and guess who's ranked seventh with a score of over 348,000. So close!!!
While I'll keep working on unlocking the last mode, I do want to touch on the game's few shortcomings. First of all, while serviceable, the art style leaves a little to be desired and I felt that the soundtrack could have used a little more "oomph". The music does react nicely to strung together combos, but the songs are not going to get stuck in your head while the game play certainly will. The only other downside of the game that I can see is that there is no multiplayer of any sort. That's probably not a deal breaker for those looking for a game of this type, but I thought it should be noted. These small negatives aside, I think fans of games like Hexic and Bejeweled will enjoy adding Droplitz to their puzzle arsenal.
Though a simple concept, Droplitz offers plenty of challenge and before you know it will have stolen several hours out of your day. It took me a few rounds to successfully get a good strategy for optimizing combos, but once I did, the game really started to click. Even to the point where I have actually had dreams about Droplitz - a phenomenon that often happens when I play an addictive puzzle game. That's a sign to me that there's a strong core mechanic at work: one that will have me coming back for just one more round... and maybe just one more after that...
Outstanding | Very Good | Fair | Poor | Awful
Recommended Buy Price: $10.00
Current MSRP: $10.00
"Droplitz" was provided for review by Atlus. The game was played for five hours across the various modes. Droplitz is also available for the PC, iPhone, and is also on the PlayStation Network.