PlayStation Move Mindbenders
Developer: 1-2
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-2
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Move Mindbenders is a threesome of puzzly brainteaser-type games, all given the PlayStation Move treatment, and each possessing its own unique character, atmosphere and gameplay style.

Tumble is probably both the least known and the most technically impressive of the three titles, and the sort of game that demonstrates Move’s capabilities perfectly. A cross between Jenga, Tetris and pick-up sticks all in glorious 3D with amazingly lifelike physics that allow you to carefully place varied objects in a pile. If you're playing the simultaneous or take-turns 2 player modes you'll be hoping your opponent stacks them badly and loses points. Despite always being set in the same stylised ‘arena’ there’s a remarkable variation in the levels and I’m only going to hint at some of the clever power ups, moving parts and special bricks that you’ll encounter as you progress (sticky bricks, rotating bases, fans that cause crosswinds), This means that every level isn’t a matter of just stacking one interesting shaped brick on top of another, nearly every one offers up a new challenge, limit or variation.

Tumble is a great way to demonstrate how Move works to gamers new to the concept, particularly if you have 2 motion controllers and can play simultaneously. The only disappointments I'd report with Tumble are that you’ll sometimes want/need to change the camera view and it's slow and unwieldy, and that I was rarely good enough to achieve all the medals on a level, usually failing to get the speed medal no matter how I tried as some of the limits seem impossible to achieve without robot-like precision. Tumble is addictive and clever and uses realistic physics in a very clever and entertaining way.

Echochrome ii is a weird little puzzle game that’s quite unique. Your Move controller acts as a flashlight and by using the supplied level constructed from simple blocks and the shadow cast by them (you still with me?) your task is to make it possible for your little shadow man to reach the exit of the level, even having to make an exit-shaped structure for him at times. By carefully adjusting the shadow you can make platforms, holes, ramps, trampolines and elevators to make a path to the exit for your shadow. It’s a bit like Lemmings only there’s only one little guy and he isn’t suicidal, he won’t walk off unprotected edges he’ll turn around and walk the other way. You do need to be careful you don’t squish him between two shadows though! At first you simply move the shadow once to make a route home, but later levels require you to stop and reposition several times for success. Levels cleverly include hidden ‘Shadow Art’ (designs made by casting the level’s shadow in a certain way) for you to search for as well as beating your own and your friend’s best times for the levels.

The mixture of simple, almost austere graphics and the rather posh and melancholy ensemble music that accompanies the gameplay and gives Echochrome ii a unique atmosphere. You can upload replays to YouTube, even including camera footage of yourself if you wish. The game also allows you to create your own devilishly cunning levels and share them online. With over a hundred levels (plus unlimited user-created levels) Echochrome ii could keep you busy for months.

Lemmings shouldn’t really need any introduction, but in case you’ve been under a rock on the dark side of the moon since 1991 the classic platform puzzler-come real-time strategy game was made by famed developer DMA Design (now Rockstar North – whatever happened to them?) and published by the legendary Psygnosis. A Lemmings level typically features up to 100 little green-haired Lemmings per level, who will simply die if you don’t guide them to safety by endowing them with various abilities that will enable them to wander, climb, tunnel, mine, explode, parachute, bridge or dig their way safely to the exit. Developed by Team 17 this is a Move-compatible version of the game released on PSN in 2007 that featured HD backgrounds and detailed Lemmings for the first time.

The various abilities are limited in number, which obviously constitutes the challenge of each level. In what is I believe a first for the series some abilities are picked up by the Lemming within the level itself, so some careful preplanning is often required. This can be done by pausing the game (by pressing the awkwardly-placed ‘Start’ button on the Move motion controller); the level can then be explored by scrolling the camera around and zooming the view in.

The Lemmings’ various abilities are: Digger (go straight down), Miner (dig a tunnel down at an angle), Thumper (tunnel straight through a wall), Climber (scale a flat, vertical wall), Builder (build a ramp slating upwards), Floater (use an umbrella as a parachute), Bomber (explodes after a 5-second countdown) and Blocker (stops other Lemmings from walking off cliff edges or into water or other hazards) and these will be familiar to Lemmings veterans. New features include darkened areas that only become lit when the first Lemming passes by a torch, as is the cloning machine that replicates every Lemming that passes by it. Teleports may have been in some previous iteration of Lemmings, and are used quite a bit in this version. The 45 levels range in difficulty from Trial training levels through Fun, Tricky, Taxing and Mayhem.

The presentation of the game is tidy if unremarkable. Some classic Lemmings tunes have been updated to accompany the action, but while you get a gold & blue rosette for completing a level in the optimum time the game doesn’t even save your best times or offer online leaderboards etc. While I’m having a gripe the game has the most wildly OTT vibration function that had me searching for a way to turn the feature off for the first time with a PS3 game. There’s also no paws-shaped “Pause” icon on screen (as there's been in every other Lemmings game I've played) so “Start” is the pause button, and anyone familiar with the Move controller will know how awkward that is to press quickly. There’s also no “Nuke” button as in the original game to explode all the Lemmings and quickly reset the level so you have to find the well-hidden ‘Select’ button to restart a level.

Lemmings is still probably as much of a Marmite game as it ever was, with some people falling for its cute, simple and addictive charms instantly while others never really 'get it' at all. As accurate as it is (as long as you don't have shaky hands) Move compatibility really adds nothing, and timing critical operations is just as tricky as it ever was with keyboard & mouse or joypad.

Overall I’d say this is a pretty good little compilation of modern and classic puzzlers for the price (around £20) that, if nothing else, will give your Move motion controller a bit of a workout, I’m just not convinced this is what Move was designed for, or what it does best.

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Best Bits

- Three very different and very clever games.
- Move control adds a new slant.
Worst Bits

- Definitely not a compilation for adrenaline junkies.

by: Jensen Buttons

Copyright © Gamecell 2011