XBLIG Spotlight: Starzzle


Every week we shine the spotlight on an XBLIG and the developers behind them.  This week we take a look at Bionic Thumbs’ Starzzle, a bright and colorful puzzle game.  Check out an trailer video below, enjoy a short but sweet conversation with the guys behind the game, and as always, I give you my perspective on the game.  Also, as usual on CBR, reading has rewards as you may even get a chance to win a copy of the game. Add Starzzle to your download queue! First, the Starzzle  trailer:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jhb8bj1b1LA

First, tell the readers a bit about yourself, who you are and how/why you decided to start getting involved in making games?

I want to say we are a team, and we love games, that was the reason.

Tell us about your history as a game developer, previous efforts, etc.

Our history is very small, Starzzle is our first videogame as a team.

If you had to pick one specific game to describe as your inspiration, what would it be?

In my case I supose I have to choose classic arcade games.

 

The game has obviously been released as a XBLIG, but have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform?  What made you decide to develop for XBLIG?

Now the game is available in iOS and WP7 platforms too.

Many gamers dream of starting to make their own games, and it is obviously easier than ever for them to do so.  What advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to designer?

Make the jump! But have your feet on the ground. Start with a simple and small project.

What can fans of your game(s) expect in the not too distant future?

We are working on a platform game.

Anything else you would like to say?

Thank you for your work making Xbox Live Indie Games known.

Add Starzzle to your download queue!

This edition of the XBLIG Spotlight features Bionic Thumbs’ Starzzle, a colorful puzzle game with plenty of levels to keep your busy.  Does Starrzle’s colorful display hide a rich puzzle experience underneath, or is the childish motif representative of the entire experience?  Read on to find out.

The first thing bound to catch the attention of any gamer sitting down for some quality time with Starzzle is the bright colorful imagery.  While it has been a long time since I played any games on it, the bright visual style reminded me of certain Super Nintendo games, such as Super Mario World.  The light, fun score fits perfectly with the art direction, everything about Starrzle from an aesthetic view says carefree, good old-fashioned fun.  Even a oddly placed fart joke in the opening sequence fails to ruin the atmosphere that Bionic Thumb has presented.

What about the puzzles?  Surely that is what you are wondering by now.  The game looks and sounds great, but it also looks very childish and kid friendly at the same time, and without question many gamers who take a crack at the demo are likely wondering just how this game plays out for the adult crowd.  The good news is that some of the puzzles are actually quite challenging, more than once I found myself unable to get out of a certain section of the map and forced to restart.  What’s more, managing to solve a puzzle in less moves than the minimum listed is incredibly difficult.  The game doesn’t cross the line of being painfully vindictive in this either, you can still finish a level in as many moves as it takes, but to get all three gold medals on a level you’ll need to be both clever and efficient.

The game play works like this: your character needs to collect all the stars on the map, but can only move in a direct line.  What’s more, your character moves till it runs into a wall, meaning you have a very limited range of movement and can easily get “trapped” in a section of a map that does not allow you to do more than move back and forth in the same spot. The first few maps are also very misleading in terms of difficulty, and once the 2nd character is introduced to the mix (who serves as a moveable block that you can move around with the same limitations but cannot pick up stars), is when the game really starts to get good.  The puzzles become increasingly harder to solve in the minimum moves, and it also becomes increasingly easier to unintentionally put yourself in an inescapable situation.  Starzzle is a game where you have to think 3-4 moves ahead to really succeed. Challenging and full of “Eureka!” moments to be sure.  As a bonus there are also plenty of levels to the game, and trying to get all three medals on every map will be no easy, or quick task.

There are some unfortunate aspects to Starrzle though, and most unfortunate of all they are largely technical in nature.  In addition to accidentally deleting a “profile” in the game and having to start over do to what is normally the back button being a delete profile without any form of additional warning, on two occasions the game apparently failed to save my progress. (Only a couple of levels were lost, but still)  Additionally, once a new world was unlocked, I consistently had an issue where each time I played a level in the newly unlocked world, once finished it would claim I had unlocked a new world and return me to the world select menu (even though I had not unlocked a new world).  This issue seemed to be fixed by exiting and returning to the game, but all of the above issues were notable issues in an otherwise fantastic experience; and Starzzle’s final score suffered as a result.

In closing, Starzzle is a bright and colorful puzzle game with solid game play mechanics and a surprising degree of difficulty.  The game awards patience and forethought, and most importantly, it is fun to play.  Ultimately though, some annoying glitches and technical issues undermine an otherwise great experience; hopefully Bionic Thumbs intends to correct some of these issues; and if the world select menu is any indication, they also intend to add up to two more worlds as well. (Which despite its’ flaws I do look forward to playing)

Final Rating: 8/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Approximate Time to Completion: ~5 Hours
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Bionic Thumbs
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: Literally doesn’t get cheaper.
Add Starzzle to your download queue!

We know how this works by now. Bionic Thumbs has been kind enough to give us two download tokens (codes) for Starzzle, and rather than horde them we’ve decided to give them to you. Yeah, we don’t know why either.  We will be continuing the recent contest formats, with all three-entry methods!
First entry: Post a comment on this XBLIG Spotlight and tell us your favorite puzzle game.  That’s it!

Second entry: Follow us on twitter and send the following tweet:

@ClearanceBinRev is giving away the #XBLIG Starrzle! Details: http://bit.ly/lEG1SW

Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t, automatically forfeits their win. If you enter via Twitter include your twitter name in your post below, winners who have their twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.

 

 

Third Entry: Like our Facebook page and then simply like the post on our wall for this article.  Simple as that. (Keep in mind the article may be lower on the Facebook page towards the end of the contest and it may take a minute or two to post on FB)

Contest will go until Wednesday at 8pm CST.  A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond.  We do not announce the names of contest winners, but do encourage them to post about their win.

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About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.