Gaming on the Palm platform emerged with relatively simple concepts.
One of the first proponents was the concept of the puzzle game. Just
like consoles and traditional console handhelds had their Bust-A-Move,
the Palm platform had Bejeweled. The last time my fellow colleague
covered Bejeweled in the first part of 2001, it was only for the Palm
OS. Now I hear Bejeweled is moving on to the Pocket PC, PC and abroad.
Ringz runs in the same vein of Bejeweled. It is a lay type of puzzle
game that challenges you to remove rings based on their colour. Rings
can only be removed in multiples so if you have a coloured ring that is
orphaned, you automatically lose the game.
Many puzzle games breach the fine line between inane frustration and the
game itself being too easy. If a title falls into the former category,
you have a game that simply isn't worth playing because it involves too
much trial and error. Moreover, one wrong move could send you clawing
your way back only to try a different, potentially incorrect, avenue.
The latter category is no better as you will eventually find yourself
playing what seems like a children's instructional tool on basic motor
skills. Ringz, luckily, manages to sit in limbo between these two
extremes. The first couple of levels, indeed, are easy enough but the
hardest levels give the feeling of taking down a very delicate stack of
dominoes. The easiest way to describe is through that overplayed,
overrated, wooden puzzle game Jenga (and you'll only remember this if
you were intellectually conscious in the 1980s). Ringz is a 2D
rendition of this. There is a bit of retracing needed for Ringz but not
so much that you have to write down your steps on a piece of paper.
You can step out of the puzzle any time you want and return to it later.
Your progress is saved but there could have been some ways for Ringz to
help you out. The addition of manually saving your game at certain
points would have been a boon. Undoing or taking back a particular move
would be even better. A hint system that gives approval or disapproval
on your moves through tone/pitch would be a great asset as well.
Colour is an absolute must for Ringz. Moreover, it requires Palm OS
3.5.2 above, so it all but eliminates those still running older Palm
devices. The overall package is small, containing no more than the bare
essential so it would have been easy to fit even on venerable m100s.
You don't get any flashy backgrounds, copious amounts of animations or
little anime characters running around. In spite of this, I had quite a
bit of fun with Ringz on the right hardware. It certainly may not be
the blockbuster that we expect from Bejeweled but it has an intellectual
approach that is subtle. Your appreciation in the craft of certain
levels will grow with each one that you solved. In the process of doing
so, you understand how that certain level was created. The first third
of the game blows by pretty quickly. It's more like a tutorial. And if
you are a veteran brainteaser, the first half won't field too much of a
challenge. The real obstacles come in the final third, which arguably
is what you paid for.
I thought there was room to make the game expandable and incorporate
other levels or even a level editor. Because of the nature of the
title, it is extremely portable. The learning curve is slight and it
won't make you fumble for the manual. Holistically speaking, the price
is fair and would be a greater value if there were some expandability
involved. Ringz's visuals remind me a lot of the candy Lifesavers. I'm
not sure if the intention was deliberate. However, if you have the
right gear to play this title and have the patience for subtle
challenges, this will bode to be a fun excursion for you.
[09/10] Program Size
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer