Actionloop

Star Fox 64 – nee Lylat Wars – was the first game to be created by Nintendo with a rumble pack in mind. It worked brilliantly, providing feedback for explosions of all shapes and sizes. It also worked well in Zelda, vibrating away when a secret grotto was nearby, while GoldenEye 007 used it to good effect to simulate the recoil of weapons. So why, then, have Nintendo chosen a coloured ball matching puzzle game to introduce the DS rumble pack to the masses? It’s an even more bizarre choice when you consider that both this and Star Fox Command were released on the same day in Europe. We aren’t going to knock points off the score or anything – it’s just a little odd.

ActionloopActionloop isn’t a brand new game by any means. Not just in that its European release has come almost six months after its US debut, but in that Zuma on PC and Xbox 360 is near identical. So much so that there’s currently a legal battle over who came up with the idea first. According to Wikipedia it was Mitchell Corporation – the team behind Actionloop – with Puzz Loop in 1998. This is a slightly enhanced version.

Much like Bust-a-Move, the idea is to use the stylus to flick the ball on the firing post to hit a bunch of balls of the same colour and watch them go ‘pop’. There’s the occasional power-up, and sometimes a rocket appears that pushes the balls to the centre faster; if the balls reach the centre, it’s game over. It’s at its best when the screen starts getting packed and the music kicks up a notch, and when more colours of ball appear it gets suitably hectic.

Actionloop’s variety is a strength. In Tetris and Columns you just had to fill up – or not – the same ‘well’ again and again. Here there are different shaped paths for the balls to roll along, each with the firing post in a different position. There’s also a mode which features a slot machine on the top screen that dishes out extra time and other helpful items. To get the reels to spin you have to fire correctly coloured balls into three holes placed in the corner of the screen. The twist is that if the chain of balls is too long then they’ll block the path to the holes.

Although nicely presented and very easy to pick up, it’s not a patch on Tetris DS or Bust-a-Move. Or even launch title Zoo Keeper for that matter. Bust-a-Move relies heavily on firing bubbles at correct angles, whereas Tetris takes ages to master, and keeping an eye on what shapes are coming next and planning ahead is essential. Here the skill required is minimal, which makes things get uninteresting quickly.

You’d be bettering off sticking with Brain Age if you want a good grey muscle workout, or getting Tetris DS instead. Not only is that online, but the new modes are actually good.

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