For those not satisfied with downloading and playing clever and colourful little games on their phones, now you can download and play them on your console at home. Or, at least you can play 4 Elements. The new block breaking puzzler available on the PlayStation Network.
4 Elements, from developer Boolat Games, is sixty-four levels of high-def brain bending puzzles with a fairy guide, set to a soundtrack of twee fairytale music. And although there is fun, you can’t escape the feeling that you'd get the same fun from a dozen other games on your phone.
Still, like all good puzzle games, 4 Elements HD starts out simple but quickly turns into hours of random controller abuse - or Move controller abuse, if you’re that way inclined. Add to this plenty of muttered profanities, cries of ‘that’s not fair’ and ‘it’s impossible, stupid game’, and you have all the joyous frustrations that are essential to the genre.
The way it works is there are four elements. If you’re an Avatar fan (Aang, not the big blue alternative) you know they are earth, fire, air, and water. You, with the help of your little fairy guide, have to save your kingdom by restoring the power of the 4 elements. And you get to build a picture of a castle as a reward.
At the beginning of each level you get a screen full of little tiles. Your task is to break open a path through the tiles allowing one of the four elements to reach its destination. So you might be getting water to a tree or fire to an alter - you get the idea.
Each of the tiles has a symbol and colour representing one of the elements. What you have to do is find three or more of the same tile in a line. If you click on one, drag the pointer across the others and release, the tiles are destroyed and the water can get that much closer to the tree. Simple enough.
But, like the best games the challenge ramps up quickly, especially when there is no obvious path to follow. What you can do, when you get blocked, is find a line of more then three tiles. Do this and the last in line will explode, taking out all the tiles around it. Even better, the longer the line the bigger the explosion.
As you progress you also get power-ups corresponding to the four elemental colours. Break enough yellow tiles and you can swap two tiles. While other power-ups let you break a tile that you can’t get to, blow up a small area of tiles or rearrange the whole screen.
Add to the mix rocks and ice that block the way, arrows that can clear a path across the whole screen, and enormous levels that you can only see small sections at one time. This can mean that the action gets frantic, as you have to quickly break tiles as you scroll across vast levels. All in all it’s a game that’s enjoyable, clever, and at times surprisingly complex.
But, it’s still a phone app for your console. The story is pointless and the rewards, like adding a fence or sky to the picture of your castle, are a joke. At least I think it’s a joke, because if it’s not - remember there is a fairy guide as well - it makes 4 Elements a game just for seven-year-old girls.
Still, if you like a little Bejeweled, or something like it for your PS3, then 4 Elements is for you. You can blow up blocks, check your scores on the online leader boards and stomp your controller into expensive little pieces of plastic as you time runs out and the sheer mind-melting complexity of the whole thing finally gets the better of you. But, isn’t that the whole point of a good puzzler?