As we look at three more new and upcoming releases, our focus shifts towards one of the most creative genres in gaming: the puzzle game. World Splitter and Room to Grow both feature very novel concepts, while Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic! is a new take on a few classic arcade puzzlers.
Puzzle platformer World Splitter is being developed by NeoBird for a multi-platform release this spring, and we got our hands on an early build of the game – which is being published by Bumble3ee Interactive.
World Splitter initially seems like a fairly straightforward puzzle platformer – get to the end of the level, get a few friendly critters to follow you there for bonus points, and avoid the enemies. You’ve got your basic switches and portals as well, so everything seems to hint at an enjoyable but perhaps slightly generic game in the genre. There’s even a clock that counts how long it took you to wrap up each level, so there’s a little something for speedrunners in there as well.
There’s a bit twist in World Splitter though, and it’s that every level is actually two levels stuck on top of one another – and you have the power to change where one world ends and the other one becomes visible. This alters the layout for each level in real time, opening up new pathways to your friends and/or the exit as you move the right thumbstick to change where the split in dimensions happens on the screen.
If that wasn’t enough, you can also rotate the split (which is a straight line) using the shoulder buttons, and later levels will even split the screen into quadrants rather than halves. It’s enough of a mind-bender to make you ignore the speedrunning element at first, just slowly figuring out how to best get to the exit – preferably with your friends in tow. When you see how fast the developers think it can be done, you realize you have some work to do – so there’s lasting appeal beyond just completing the levels as well. We’re looking forward to trying out the full game when it arrives.
Room to Grow
Room to Grow from Mischka Kamener is out now on Steam and is a delightful new puzzle twist on the classic Nibbler/Snake formula – one where you play as an ever-growing cactus rather than a snake.
The core concept is simple: push flower pots into the designated target area(s) to finish a level. At first this is easy to do as you just push a pot forward with the tip/head of your cactus, but before long you’ll need to think ahead as you find your own body being in the way of what you’re trying to do. This is where you push yourself off against the walls in the game, pushing your existing ‘body’ in the opposite direction and thus creating new pathways and/or pushing other pots closer to where they need to go.
It’s deceptively simple, and the difficulty level quickly ramps up. Some levels will have you pulling hairs out of your head, but there’s always the option to skip a level and proceed to the next one when you feel like you’re stuck. With 100 levels to play through, you’re getting plenty of content for the asking price, so puzzle enthusiasts will want to check this one out at its steam page. The video there does a much better job as showcasing the gameplay than we ever could in words.
Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic!
About thirty years ago, I was introduced to a very specific type of arcade game through Volfied and Qix. Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic! (that exclamation point really brings out the panic) follows in their footsteps by essentially cloning the core gameplay elements, which are still as easy to grasp yet addictive as they were back then. Originally developed by Zoo Corporation, the game has now been released for consoles as well, and we tested it on a PS4.
In Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic!, each level is only a single screen, which has silhouette as a backdrop. The backdrops hide pictures of anime girls, but luckily the content is pretty PG throughout and not as overtly sexualized as we’ve seen elsewhere. The girls are all licensed from a mobile military-themed game called Rick G Earth, so they often have weapons and outfits that match the military theme.
As with Volfied and Qix, your goal is to claim a large enough area of the playing field in order to progress, but at first you can only move along the edges of the screen. You can travel inward, but will need to connect back to an existing border line in order to create a boxed off area and claim it. Easier said than done though, because enemies can hurt you either by touching you or by firing at you, and being on the inside of an unclaimed area makes you especially vulnerable. It’s a non-stop cycle of risk and rewards as you devise strategies to claim bigger areas, and claiming areas that have power-ups in them can definitely help in that regard. Succeed, and you’ll unlock the next level as well as the backdrop that was hidden at first.
While the Rick G Earth content was in no way a draw for me, the core gameplay loop was as accessible and addictive as ever, and Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic! is a nice throwback to a classic arcade subgenre.