Support Andy, click to buy via us...
Chime's mix of music and puzzling strikes a Tetris shaped chord in a sea of action packed musical games and pledges 60% of profits to good causes. It's a great 360 XBLA game, even without the good works.
If truth be told, I've never been a fan of Guitar Hero and the world of musical games. Partially because I can actually play the guitar and find Guitar Hero to be wrong. It's always, like my drummer tells me when I thrash away at his kit, behind the beat. And that doesn't sit well with my hand's muscle memory. But with Guitar Hero I can at least see the appeal - I have spent many hours in my youth playing air guitar in my bedroom, and this game would have been manna from heaven to the 13-year-old me.
There are plenty of other music based games out there that don't have groovy controllers, but instead rely on some kind of puzzle solving to engage a player, Rhythm Heaven DS, Tengoku GBA and the like. Most of these drive me up the wall mainly because the choice of music always seems to be on the lunatic side of Happy Hardcore - with the gameplay being as frenetic as the beats.
I was genuinely happy to discover that you could play Chime without the musical elements and have a good dose of puzzling. Otherwise it could easily have lasted three minutes before I swore at it and went off to find my acoustic.
There are five levels, with a number of time limits to chose from. Each one has a different style of board to play on, with a different set of shapes for each. Your task is to cover the board with your shapes. But it's not as simple as placing a shape on the board and leaving it at that. You will need to create quads before the game agrees you have covered an area, and that can't be done just by slapping on your Tetris like shapes down willy-nilly. You'll need to fit them together just so to create a quad. Once you've got a quad set up, you can ramp up your score by making it bigger, filling in around the edges to increase your multiplayer before that quads time runs out.
I was happy just to play the first level over and over - since the Philip Glass score that accompanies it is the perfect musical fit.
Each time you create a quad you get a little time bonus which helps you find the time to fill in more quads until, eventually, if all goes well, you've covered the entire board and are given a clean one to fill out with the remaining time. This is how some of the online high scorers managed to achieve 100%+ coverage, some even achieving 600%.
On top of all this puzzling comes the music. Every time the pulse marker moves over a shape it plays a note. The choice of note depends on where on the board you place your shape. Supposedly, if you're skilled enough, you can play the puzzle game while at the same time composing your own little musical score. In reality, it means there's a lot of chiming and ringing going on to accompany your increasingly frantic quad building.
There are a mere five tunes to play around with, and if you manage to cover more than 50% of each board but fail to achieve total coverage, the game comes up a little short. I was happy just to play the first level over and over - since the Philip Glass score that accompanies it is the perfect musical fit. It sounds like a piece of music written for a cute Indie film, a little like Amelie, where the director has asked for something to describe a character's own little world. Indeed, while I'm playing the Philip Glass level I am in my own little, quad building, world.
And here's the rub: while I'm playing I am completely mesmerised.
And here's the rub: while I'm playing I am completely mesmerised. There's nothing else I want to do but build more quads and cover more of the board to score more and more points. But as soon as I put it down I have absolutely no urge to pick it back up again. Rather like those cheeses you get at Christmas - while you're eating them, they're great, but come Boxing Day, when you look in the cupboard for a snack, your brain says 'no thanks'.
This is strange because when I sit down and think about it, I know Chime is a very good puzzle game. I just don't want to play it very much. The rest of the family have little interest in it - the kids look at it for a few minutes and then slip back into their own little talking plastic animal worlds. My wife, a big fan of Orbital (Phil Hartnoll has contributed one number to the game), takes some interest before she glazes over and leaves me to it, and the cat, Unless the music involves mewling, she's never been interested.
60 percent of the profits go to Save The Children and the Starlight Children's Foundation.
It is a finely crafted puzzler with some strong musical aspects, but the repeat play enticements aren't there, unless you just have to have the highest score in every game you ever play. For an evening's entertainment though, that involves supporting charity, Chime is the perfect partner. 60 percent of the profits go to Save The Children and the Starlight Children's Foundation. And we support such acts of kindness wholeheartedly.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: