OneBigGame, the publisher of Zoe Mode's Chime, is a new publisher set up with the aim of helping charities by selling games. Developers create free, small games and OneBigGame publishes them at low cost, giving all of the money they make to charity. Chime is the first game to come out of the endeavour.
The goal in Chime is to create groups of blocks (called Quads) out of Tetrimino-like shapes. You have a large playfield on which you can place your bricks at random, your only restriction being that you can't place bricks on top of each other. Group enough of the blocks together without spaces between them and you'll form a quad - you can even keep adding to the quad by extending it (in any direction) by adding more blocks - until the time limit for that quad is reached and it becomes set (at which point it can no longer be added to).
As quads are cleared from the board, their space becomes available to build more quads, with the space previously occupied by a quad permanently "painted" to show that you own it. Own enough of the board (50%) when the level ends and you'll unlock the next one. This simple mechanic keeps things interesting, as you'll constantly be striving to claim more territory, yet big points beckon from those huge open expanses in the middle of the level.
Creating quads adds more layers to the background music, which develops from a pretty basic beat at the start of each level to something much more involved as you go on. The music is spectacular too, with lots of modern electronica from some of the biggest names in the genre.
You move your little Tetrimino (so named due to their similarity with the blocks in Tetris) with the left stick, rotating it with the right stick. The exact nature of the rotation system is a bit of a mystery, leading to some unexpected turns and some frustration trying to get a piece to line up the way you want it to when the time pressure is on. It's not severe but it is a bit quirky and probably the only part of the game that could have done with a bit more polish.
There are loads of levels on offer, each based on a particular audio track. There's various difficulty settings (which boil down to how much time you start each level with) and there's a non-threatening endless mode, in which neither score nor time are tracked. Good ambient fun to be had there. There's a multiplayer mode too but, as yet, there aren't many games going and we were unable to find anyone to play against in time for this review.
Chime isn't a revelation in the puzzle gaming world but there are enough new ideas here to justify its existence. It's fun to play, looks great, has plenty of content, only costs 400 points and that money goes to charity - if you're at all interested in Lumines, Tetris, electronica or having a good time, it would be churlish not to plunk down the cash. Here's hoping they release a PSP mini version for addictive gaming on the go!