The general consensus when bundled packages are pushed out onto the market is one of contempt, pointing the finger at big corporate giants eager to squeeze as much money out of us poor punters as possible. However, discarding the hat of cynicism for a short while, looking at a game such as Move Mind Benders helps us to see the release in a totally different light. Although nearly every man and his dog has access to some form of Internet service, this does not automatically mean that people are always willing to use online download channels, especially after the whole PlayStation Network hacking debacle. Therefore, the idea of putting together Lemmings, echocrome ii and Tumble onto one budget-priced Blu-ray DVD actually seems quite the logical step.
Starting with Tumble, for any Nintendo fans reading this it plays like a cross between Art of Balance on WiiWare and the EA-Steven Spielberg project, Boom Blox. This proves to be an interesting combination of two games that were extremely successful in their own right and it is definitely one that excels in many ways. The basic aim in one of the modes is to use the PlayStation Move controller to pick up numerous blocks of varying shapes — cubes, triangular wedges, cuboids — and place them one atop the other to build the highest possible tower without it tumbling and falling to the ground. Elsewhere it is more a case of using every oddly-shaped block on the floor and balancing them within a designated area, or there are even stages where blowing up large towers with a limited amount of mines to score the most points by causing the highest level of destruction is the order of the day.
Tumble is by Supermassive Games, the same folk that worked on the short-lived Start the Party! series of mini-games, so it should come as no surprise that Tumble is a rather bite-sized experience, despite the inclusion of turn-based options for two players with only the one Move controller. However, to lengthen the game slightly, along the way there is the opportunity to attain Gold, Silver or Bronze medals dependent on how successful you were on a specific level. By building the highest tower, using as many blocks as possible to create a semi-stable construction on just a small platform, or spreading debris far and wide across a bulls-eye target. The beauty of the blocks in Tumble is that they are all made of varying materials, some heavier than others, ones that are light and prone to easy movements if not placed accurately enough, or even certain ice-like, slippery blocks. Thankfully, the Move controller can be used to scan up and down to see any potential flaws in the construction, and around in a 360-degree circle to cast an eye over the creation. Whereas Start the Party! started to feel quite empty at times, despite Tumble not being the longest game ever, it will hopefully allay the fears of those thinking about the lack of developer quality.
As for Japan Studio’s echocrome ii, it is such a beautiful game right from the very start when the serene piano and strings begin to pour gracefully from your TV’s speakers. The majestically composed score sets the tone for what is a truly delightful concept that is extremely reminiscent of Hudson Soft’s Lost in Shadow on Wii, another gorgeously designed title based around the manipulation of shadows to help a character towards a particular goal. Unlike in that release, however, echocrome does not allow for direct control of the lead star, known as a Walker. Instead, each level focuses on how players can move a light source around to formulate intricate pathways for the little doll-like person to automatically wander along. In a Lemmings-esque manner, the small wooden mannequin will commence its meander when instigated by the player shining the light in its direction, and then it is a case of controlling its movements by deftly changing the surrounding landscape by moving the beam of light around. Shadows are cast as the ray hits objects dotted around the level, forming direct routes to the goal, creating trampolines when the shadows of circular objects are only partially shown in order to leap over large obstacles, or even uncovering the exit itself by joining the silhouette of a block and sphere together.
This entry into the Move Mind Benders is quite possibly the best of the bunch, with its minimalistic visual approach working to its advantage as it is all delivered in such a wonderfully stylised manner, complete with the tranquil music that sends chills down your spin in many instances, whilst proving to be highly uplifting at certain points. It is the sort of score that can easily be left playing for long periods in the background whilst doing other tasks. As for the main game itself, parallels can be drawn between echochrome ii and Broken Rules’ quirky Indie hit And Yet It Moves, where the rotation aspect of levels saw the entire stage being turned around to shed light on the situation at hand. Here players will be faced with all manner of objects that can be used to change the perception of an area in order to discover the exit. Over the course of the 100 levels in the main mode, and with a community element where self-designed levels can be shared online, solved puzzles can be uploaded to YouTube, or new stages from others downloaded, this was definitely a worthy download prospect on the PlayStation Network. As part of Move Mind Benders, though, it goes a long way to justifying the retail price.
There are three ways to enjoy echochrome ii: the standard Escort Mode where the Walker must head from A to B; the Echo Mode where exploration is encouraged as the aim changes to seeking out ‘echoes’ of the Walker itself; and Paint Mode, which is a case of the Walker being dropped into paint and having to cover each nearby block red, blue or green. The amount of customisation, the level of detail gone into the presentation, the fantastic online community sharing elements, Japan Studios has a game that can easily stand on its own two feet, yet works just as well being the shining light of Move Mind Benders.
Finally there is Lemmings, the classic puzzler that Team17 has resurrected, where the aim is to guide the troop of fuzzy green-haired critters around a stage, helping them reach their goal without causing undue harm to themselves by accidentally wandering and falling to their doom. To prevent their demise at the hands of guillotines or radioactive material, for example, certain individuals can receive orders either from the standard DUALSHOCK3 or PlayStation Move motion controller to take on specific tasks that may well be of help. Use Stoppers to protect from the treacherous drops or grab a Digger to start working through barriers. With whole new stages included, all complete with devilishly tough puzzles, Lemmings definitely grabs players and demands they come back for just one more go, and even entices people back with the newly included online leaderboard function where keeping track of global rankings is made easy.
Move Mind Benders is a fantastic low-priced bundle with three amazingly addictive puzzle experiences. Frustratingly there is no way to soft reset out of the game you are currently trying in order to leap into one of the others on offer, meaning that each time you fancy switching over, the entire game needs to be quitted out of and reloaded. However, that minor drawback aside, any fans of the genre should definitely be checking this gem out.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PS3 Release Date: 09/11/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Move Mind Benders for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.