Clickomania & Clickomania II, Palm OS & Pocket PC

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, July 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Beiks, go to the Clickomania or Clickomania II web site
Requires: Palm OS 3.5 or higher
MSRP: $10.00

Two games, almost the same names, one simple, one more complex, both markedly different. You've got to match things up in each game, but no (in case you were wondering) they're not Bejeweled clones or anything like that, although it's possible that Bejeweled's design and basic game play concept may have inspired the Clickomania designers (or maybe it was the other way around?). In any case, both games are well worth a look. We decided to examine a bit more than straightforward game play in this review too, opting to analyze the strategy and presentation concepts as well. We used Clickomania and Clickomania II on a Sony Clie TH55, a Palm Zire 71 and an older Sony Clie PEG-N760C. We've been suspiciously addicted to both games for several weeks. Hmmm.

In the spirit of Jawbreaker, Clickomania presents you with a game screen filled with multicolored blocks. Tapping anywhere within a space occupied by two or more adjacent same-colored blocks explodes them and collapses the blocks above into the empty space. The goal of the game sounds simple: blow up all the bl0cks leaving none behind. In practice, you may be absorbed for hours on end, scanning the entire board, strategizing the method to use in order to collapse isolated two and threes to combine ever larger blocks of one color in order to gradually work your way to the bottom without leaving any singles. Or maybe you'll find that some game boards are more completely solvable if you start from the bottom and work your way up; some from the middle outward. The game boards are not generated completely randomly - there's some method at work here - so a full scan of the entire game board and a bit of planning is in order before starting each game session. It is really more difficult than you can imagine and requires clear thinking, strategy and a bit of patience.

Clickomania has a certain similarity to Solitaire games in that in becomes clear, after a few dozen rounds, that not all boards are solvable down to zero blocks remaining. The wisdom of the player and the challenge of the game becomes partly a contest with yourself to see how early in any round you are able to determine if there's no way to win (or at least improve the current best score in your stats). Games end when there are no more adjacent same-colored blocks to tap.

Clickomania II
In the spirit of Bejeweled, Clickomania II provides a highly worthy twist in game design and play which removes it entirely into a similar but separate category. Unlike Bejeweled, instead of matching shapes in rows of three or four, Clickomania II requires you to match characters. But also unlike Bejeweled, instead of tapping the game screen to shift adjacent characters you tap a character in a single separate character selection column positioned at the right side of the game screen, then tap a location in the game screen into which the selected character is placed to form a three of four character column or row (which then blows up, allowing the characters above to collapse and fill the empty spaces, occasionally forming new three and four character columns or rows which in turn automatically collapse). The challenge inherent in the game play is constantly changing and the need to constantly scan the board and the character selection column is vital to long game sessions and resulting high scores. For the record, my high score is 63,485. Games end when there are no more character matches left.

Cons: Clickomania II is graphically intense and the lower portion of the main game screen seems to suffer from some minor redraw problems, although game play is not really impeded. We found that the Instructions screens, Hall of Fame screen and registration entry dialog were very hard to read because of the use of pale red text displayed on pale grey and pale blue-grey backgrounds. Once again, although this doesn't affect game play, it sure does detract somewhat from the overall satisfaction

Pros: It is a continuing source of amazement that game designers continue to come up with the simplest kinds of games which provide this much challenge and interest. Addictive game play which requires strategy and focus. Some aspect of chance in Clickomania mainly because not every board is solvable down to zero blocks. Tip: if you keep having games which leave dozens of blocks, slow down your game play because most boards, albeit freely generated by the game code, are more completely solvable than is apparent at first glance. In Clickomania II, the possibility for extremely high scores is tied directly to patience and match-up strategy. Tip: don't just select the first character you notice for a match, try to scan the entire game board as often as possible before each match-up selection. A serious, non-violent, addictive pair of games for adults or kids. The different character themes freely available for Clickomania II provide broad appeal and provide a refreshing change. Excellent, challenging time wasters. Well worth the small registration cost. Highly recommended.

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