Eolith.. They put out some games with were rather respectable, the Hidden Touch games, Crazy War, they were even responsible for The King of Fighters 2001 (love it or hate it) But they also put out some titles which weren’t quite so good.
The Back of the Flyer for the game I’m about to feature here is enough to raise a few giggles alone. The list of Special Features presenting a list of some of the most common and meaningless features found in any puzzle game in charmingly bad English and the story is quite absurd with talk of Golden Pipes falling from an “Unidentifiect Flying Object”..
It doesn’t end there tho, let’s give you some screenshots of this one…
They do say sometimes it’s all in the name, and the observant of you will have quickly noticed the name of the first character you encounter, eloquently christened “CRAP”
Now, maybe that was meant to be Crab, I don’t know, it doesn’t really much look like a Crab, it does actually look a lot more like a bright blue .. crap .. possibly a snake at a push, either way you can’t help but think of it as a good indicator to the overall quality of this game.
There are a good number of games where you’re linking up pieces of pipe in a pit, Taito’s Cachat, or Atari’s (unreleased) Sparkz are better known examples; there were even a handful I covered when looking at Saturn games for one of the Ultimate MAME / UME articles, however those games are all better than this in every conceivable way.
It’s not really easy to explain exactly what’s wrong here beyond the basic mechanics they’ve decided on for the puzzle game just aren’t fun and any flaws in those mechanics just seem to be hacked around in the most crude and obvious ways, to make matters worse the whole thing just seems very rushed as well, almost unfinished.
It’s a 3 button puzzle game, one button rotates the whole 2 unit block which is falling, and each of the other 2 buttons rotate each individual unit of that block which is a fiddly control system on it’s own. Rotating when against a wall also often changes the behavior causing further confusion.
The idea is to simply link the ‘pipe end’ pieces up via pipes, create combos, and generally do things faster than the CPU opponent in order to fill their water meter before they fill yours, and that’s all there is to it really. Now the point about things feeling hacked in. Naturally due to the game mechanics you will end up with pipe pieces in the pit which you simply can’t link. Every now and again the game will decide to drop what can only be described as a ‘cursor’ block, it’s a bit like a target, it doesn’t collide with anything, and you simply have to drop it at the bottom of the column you want to remove a piece from. This isn’t optional, if you drop it somewhere where there is nothing to remove it will just keep repeating until you do; it makes no sense in the context of the rest of the game and just feels like a hack to overcome a problem they didn’t consider in advance.
I’ve played worse Puzzle games, but fiddly controls, uninspired design, poor presentation (aside the backgrounds, which are actually fairly attractive) means this is probably one best passed up on.
I can’t really judge the sound at this point, because until literally half an hour ago the Eolith driver had no sound in MAME. Phil B. has checked in preliminary sound support, but for now it’s a few random noises and misplaced sound effects, not something to call judgment with ;-)
Btw this was actually added in the u1 release, but would lock up when trying to start the game. This appears to be a result of the first 2 dipswitches, having them set incorrectly causes various issues; which again makes things look a bit rushed assuming the same issue is present on the real hardware. (not confirmed yet)