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Portabliss: Bomb Monkey (3DS eShop)


Renegade Kid's Bomb Monkey is a refreshingly simple falling-block puzzler. You line up blocks of the same color, and then drop a bomb to destroy all adjacent same-color blocks within the bomb's one-block blast radius. It's sort of like a simplified Puzzle Fighter, since there's no timer on the bombs and they aren't color-coded. There are added complexities, like locked blocks that require two bombs to clear and an optional mode that lets you rescue a monkey from a cage (by blowing it up), but the foundation is almost immediately understood.

I'm totally not saying that as a bad thing, either. Maybe more than any puzzle game I've played, Bomb Monkey immediately gets you into the pleasurable business of making giant chain-reaction combos and watching everything on the screen vanish.

Gallery: Bomb Monkey (3DS) | 3 Photos

The key to the controlled chaos is a special block that destroys everything in its row or column (depending on the direction of its arrows) when hit. These drop randomly just as other blocks and bombs do, and it's possible to line them up to trigger one another, without all that much careful planning. Which is good, because my "strategy" in falling block puzzlers tends to be of the "randomly drop stuff and hope it accidentally creates something good" school of thought.

I feel like it'll be possible to create bigger, more intricate plans as I play, but I like that I'm already enjoying some crazy chain reactions from the outset.

You can enjoy the simple puzzle mechanics in either endless or timed modes, in a "rescue" mode that has you detonate bombs on a cage to free the monkey within, and in multiplayer modes that make clever use of the hardware. The game is played with the 3DS held sideways anyway, to put the screen in a portrait format; Renegade Kid took advantage of this to create simultaneous two-player modes using a single system. Each player looks at their own screen, and controls their block-dropping monkey with either the d-pad or the face buttons.

Simple falling-block puzzle games like this used to be ubiquitous. In recent years, however, they've been largely Bejeweled out of existence. It's nice to play a well-designed new one.

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