Studio Japan’s Numblast is just about as quirky as they come. Assigning curious characters and a bizarre story to the simple Bejeweled template, here mental agility is as vital as your ability to switch off right around the moment a monkey vomits an egg, which promptly hatches into a spider. Trophy unlocked.
Straight from the developers responsible for LocoRoco and Patapon it’s not that surprising, and adding a little outlandishness to a template that’s seen countless releases and redecorations certainly makes it more appealing. And the£3.99 price tag works to similar effect.
Compared to Hexic, which with its subdued and trance-inducing score, minimalist visuals and no frills gameplay offered a tranquil time-killer, Numblast is a vivacious and animated beast. With each successful rotation resulting in a chime of ‘Alpha, Inter, Gamma, Delta’ or the probing laughter of a monkey alongside an energetic tune, Numblast is much more blast than numb.
There are some significant alterations painting it a substantially different shade to Bejeweled or Hexic, the most obvious comparisons. Cubes are both coloured and numbered and the aim is to create as many 2×2 squares of the same number, 1-4, as possible. The more cubes created at once the higher the multiplier and this is of course, a leaderboard inspired game.
To generate some competition cubes fade over time. A 2×2 cube of entirely black squares can’t be turned and so cubes from across the board have to be shipped to these blackened cubes. Whether or not you eliminate the black cubes and risk creating more, or ignore them until you’re overrun gives the game a frantic edge and even toward the end of the easiest difficulty you’ll be anxiously twisting cubes hoping something clicks perfectly into place. There’ll be a monkey chiming too.
As well as a familiar time attack mode and the standard Endless Mode (where you play till the board is full with blackened cubes) Numblast sports an engrossing puzzle mode. Offering 25 challenges ranging from difficult to impossible, they all require you to clear the board of a certain number of cubes in a predetermined amount of moves. The puzzles are ranked as well, and there are trophies for achieving the highest, but they’re tough enough to accomplish in the maximum number of moves allowed, let alone a fraction of that.
Peculiar but fun, Numblast relies on the same thrills as Bejeweled and Hexic but distinguishes itself enough from with it’s quirky exterior. It’s unlikely that the additions Studio Japan add will convert anyone not already interested in the sub-genre, but those keen on puzzle games requiring lightning reactions and quick wits will find Numblast a total blast. If only for a few hours.