Move Mind Benders: review

Playstation Move has never really taken off as well as Sony had hoped after the mainstream success of the Nintendo Wii, partly due to the lack of games supporting it. Move Mind Benders brings three PSN titles together on one disc, with puzzlers Tumble, echochrome ii, and a newly Move-enabled version of the classic Lemmings sparking some life into the glowing embers of the Move controller.

Lemmings is a title that most gamers will recognise immediately, and this new version of the classic series is just as enjoyable as it always was. It hasn’t changed a great deal from the original, but then why change a winning formula? You are tasked with steering your hapless green haired characters through trap filled stages by using the Move controller to choose a skill from the selection on offer, such as climbing, digging or the iconic umbrella parachute. There is a tutorial stage to ease new players in, which does help you get to grips with the different skills and also gets you used to the Move controls, which are easy to perform on earlier stages. Graphics are nicely drawn, but aren’t majorly different to the original. A few stages feel reminiscent of a Mario game, as our little suicidal friends light torches to see upcoming traps in a darkened level; even the music evokes Mario when he enters the haunted house levels. Some of the stages can take a bit of trial and error to complete, and finally completing that tricky level you’ve spent hours on can feel quite rewarding. It has to be said some of the later stages can get quite manic, and the Move controller can feel quite sluggish when you need to change skills. There were a few instances where we chose the wrong attribute, and had to start the level from scratch which was quite annoying. On the whole though Lemmings is a decent game, and we’re pleased to see it get a new lease of life with motion controls.

This level in Lemmings evokes memories of Mario's Haunted House levels.

The second game in the collection is Tumble, and this is probably the weakest game in the collection. It’s basically a cross between Jenga and Tetris, with players tasked to build towers with a selection of different shaped blocks, which vary in size and texture, or destroy towers of blocks by placing some bombs at carefully selected points on the structure. The Move controls work particularly well here, with the manipulation of the blocks feeling very intuitive and realistic. The physics are quite realistic too, and you have to be very careful with your block manipulation, or you will end up with your structure collapsing in front of you like a house of cards. There are three different height markers that you need to stack your blocks to. The lowest height gains you a bronze medal, and if you manage to reach the higher markers you gain silver and gold. These unlock new challenges for the level, like having to finish it in a set time, or stacking blocks to reach a distant target. If you earn enough medals on one zone you unlock the next zone with fresh levels and challenges. The first couple of zones are relatively simple, but things get progressively harder, and introduce things like mirrors to reflect light beams through coloured blocks; and some levels add limbo bars which sweep towards your teetering structure, that you need to stay beneath. There are plenty of fresh ideas here, and for the most part they work well, and it has that one-more-go factor. A couple of gripes are that it can take a long time for a challenge to restart if you fail it, and the camera takes an age to swing around to your ideal angle. But there are plenty of challenges in here to keep everyone happy for a good few hours at least.

Tumble has several game modes to keep things fresh.

The last game in the collection is echochrome ii, which is probably the best game of the collection. This sequel only bears a slight resemblance to the original. The goal is still to get your little marrionette character to the exit of each level, but this time your little character is now a shadow, and instead of moving the 3D levels around your character, you need to use the Move remote as a torch to cast shadows that reveal new paths that you need your character to follow to reach the exit. It’s an inspired idea and opens up all sorts of possibilities as you bend and stretch the shadows to create trampolines, doorways, and holes, as well as creating the exits by combining the shadows of an rectangular block and a circle. Some levels seem impossible to complete at first, but then the answer appears right in front of your nose, and you’re left cursing yourself for being so stupid that you didn’t see it before. The game gives you a generous time limit to complete each stage, but your man can die by falling off the level, or by being caught between moving shadows. There are two other modes available to play called Echo and Paint. Echo has you guiding your man to pick up copies of himself, which are strewn around the level, while Paint sees you guiding several marrionettes who are all coloured differently. These men paint the levels that cast the shadows. You basically have to cover a certain percentage of the level to progress to the next stage. All the game modes are played on the same stages, though there is an editor that allows you to create your own puzzle layout; but we found it just as mind melting as the main game, and it goes to show how much effort must have gone into creating the puzzles in the first place. Echochrome ii isn’t for everyone, the minimalist style and laid back gameplay could put a lot of folk off, but if you give it a go you’ll find a creatively rich experience that is quite brilliant.

It doesn't look like much fun, but echochrome ii is a great game.

Move Mind Benders could be called a cynical way of putting Move games on shelves in time for Christmas, but there’s no denying that all three of these games are very good puzzle games that will give the family plenty of reason to ditch that dusty old game of Kerplunk, and charge the Move controllers that have had their glow dimmed by lack of use.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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