Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC
Submitted by: James Monkman
Looking at the title screen and the name alone, Color Lines could easily be mistaken for yet another Tron light cycles game – at least that was my initial assumption when I saw the release entry on pouet.net. However, don't be fooled; Color Lines is in fact a puzzler based on a 'Lines', a game designed by Oleg Demin. Featuring two distinctly different play modes, tons of fantastic graphics from a variety of CPC scene artists and more music than you'd find on the average chipdisk, GPA's latest offering may well be another entry in an already overcrowded genre but the outstanding execution and design is enough to make it worthy of your attention.
In classic mode, a game of Color Lines starts with a grid of 81 squares containing a few coloured pieces. Every turn three new pieces are randomly called into play, and the player’s goal is to make as many horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines of five or more coloured pieces as possible before the grid finally fills up and the game ends. The catch is that you can only move pieces to other areas of the board if there is an open path, which calls for some strategic planning in order to achieve a high score; every time you complete a line you get an extra move and there are a number of special lines that result in score bonuses. For a casual puzzle game it works quite well, and the addition of the 'special challenge' mode in which you have a limited number of tile swaps adds a welcome bit of variation.
It has to be said that the first thing that when loading up the game I was really impressed by the high quality of the presentation; Color Lines looks more like a 16-Bit title with it's lush colours and well drawn screens. Likewise, the music and design of the game are of a equally high standard – it's clear that a lot of love went into the development of the game, with it's selection of different in-game graphical skins, audio and even a fake cracktro screen. However, it is still a rather basic puzzle game, and with the bar being recently reset by Axelay and his head-turning Star Sabre and Dead on Time you can't help but feel that the turn-based game-play in Color Lines is a bit weak in comparison.
For fans of the genre, Color Lines will make a welcome addition to their homebrew CPC collection. There's nothing really to dislike about the game; similar to Binary Sciences with their recent Sudoku Master and Groops, GPA have taken a simple design and made the very best of it. It's just a shame that they didn't pick a slightly more ambitious project as they clearly possess the skills to create games of a very high standard.