Puzzle games for handhelds are fairly plentiful these days, and it
really takes something special to shine in this area. Rotomino's Box,
put quite plainly, doesn't have anything to do so.
That isn’t to say that Rotomino's Box isn't dubiously original. You
control a spinning, huffing device that is used to shuffle jewels
around to arrange them in sets of 2 or more, and make them disappear.
There are two modes of play: one where you play the game normally,
attempting to prevent gems from piling up, and a second mode that has 63
levels worth of puzzles that you have to solve in as few strokes as
possible. The normal mode proceeds like this: each turn you get 4 gems
on your Rotomino thingy, and you have a certain amount of time to
position and fire off the jewels. If you don't do it in the allotted
time, they will automatically fire off in whatever direction they
happen to be facing. As your score goes up, the time delay goes down,
so you have to make quicker and quicker decisions. Sometimes you get
jewels that have a shining star in them - those can be used to
eliminate adjacent jewels of any colour, sort of like a multi-colored
jewel of sorts. As soon as you fire off a jewel onto an adjacent one
and it doesn't disappear (i.e. as soon as the jewel cannot travel
for more than one square on any side), game over. That's about it.
The second mode actually has a bit of a story, which is about as plausible
as if Bejewelled claimed the jewel shuffling tradition came from
ancient Egyptian kings. Apparently some wizard lived in some castle,
and had a box that his apprentice opened and got trapped inside. So
the wizard tried to get her out of the box for the rest of his life,
and died of exhaustion. Now, for some reason, it's up to you to save
her. The 63 levels are accompanied by occasional visuals (ex. "the
kiss" or "wash me"). The first 10 puzzles are totally trivial, but the
difficulty level goes up as you go on, and things get more difficult.
The only problem is, though, that even though the puzzles are
challenging, chances are you won't have the patience OR the drive to
keep going. There is just simply not enough variety and challenge to
keep going if this doesn't happen to be your idea of fun. What is
worse is that the game doesn't save its state when you play, which is
moderately bad for type A games, where you can go back and pick a
level, but for type B, where you craft puzzles, it is unacceptable
because you can't be expected to spend your life in the game like the
stupid assistant in the story. Last, and not so major, the game
corrupted the soft graffiti area on my Clie NR70 during play. I say
"not no major" because the NR70 is a relatively new device that is
likely to run into some compatibility problems. The game worked fine
on my N750C.
Overall, while it's not an altogether bad game that has a somewhat
original concept, its shortcomings kill it. If it were possible to get
rid of the story and the annoying mascot character, and make the game
save its state upon exit, it would really become a lot better. A
useful function would also be screen-only control which APPEARS to be
present, but did not function well neither on my NR70 nor on my N750C
- perhaps I couldn't get the aiming right, but regardless, I had to
resort to hard keys - it's hard playing with the hardware keys on the
NR70 (if only because their layout is no longer game-friendly).
Update: The latest version of Rotomino's Box has the ability to allow gamers to download extra levels off the net, in addition to the ones already included.