With the advent of 3D graphics and super-fast polygon-pushing processors, today’s 128-bit consoles are a force to be reckoned with. It’s a wonder that there is still a market for simple 2D puzzle games in this day and age. Egg Mania: Eggstreme Madness is yet another entry into the building-block puzzle revolution that the Russian game Tetris ushered in almost 20 years ago. While the premise has been somewhat modified and the visuals are worlds better, the basic foundation of Egg Mania is centered around the age-old mechanics that Alexey Pazhitnov invented in 1985.
The main mode of the game, titled simply “Egg Mania”, is where you’ll find the majority of single-player lasting-appeal. Upon choosing Egg Mania mode, you’ll be presented with a screen asking the level of difficulty you desire; Over Easy for beginners, or if you’re looking for a challenge, Hard Boiled. Once you start a game, you’ll face off with various eggs, each of which has his or her own unique personality and aesthetic differences. The goal of the game is to stack up enough pieces to get to the top of the screen where a hot air-balloon is waiting to whisk you away into, assumably, some sort of Egg-Heaven where the word “scrambled” does not exist.
In order to stack up enough rows to reach the top, you’ll need to control your cute little egg-character as he picks up floating construction pieces, twirls them around, and slams them to the ground. Leaving gaps in the stacks is not recommended since the ever-rising water underneath you will tear the incomplete row out, forcing every row on top of it to fall down. But this also adds a cool strategy to the game in the sense that if you and the opponent are both moderately close to the top, throwing blocks down on the ground quickly may give you that extra height you need before the water comes and gobbles up the spastic rows you’ve created.
On top of that, you’ll also be able to use power-ups and special offensive items. These include a Spatula, which quickly fills in any gaps in your block-mountain, and Super Boots, which allow you to jump extra high and move around quicker. The offensive items consist of a Thunderbolt and Hammer, which can knock the opponent off the top of his or her stack into the water, thus gaining an edge over the competition of a few extra seconds. A Bomb can also be picked up from the downward-floating items. These can be thrown into the opponent’s tower but be careful, because they can throw it back at you if the fuse isn’t completely burnt.
Other modes in the game, which serve only to compliment the main mode, are Bomb mode, Solo, Survival, Tournament, and Custom. Solo allows you to compete against your own high score, Survival is all about how many times you can win against a computer-controlled opponent in a row, Tournament allows you and seven opponents to battle it out, and Custom lets you customize, as it were, nearly every facet of the game’s dynamics. Bomb mode is hands-down the coolest extra mode. Here, you and a rival will constantly throw bombs at each other. The first one to destroy the other’s tower is the winner.
Egg Mania won’t be winning any awards in the visual department, though the simple cartoon-like graphics do get the job done adequately with style to spare. The egg characters are quite diversified. Some of the more interesting designs include a robo-egg, a deviled egg, and a punk rock egg complete with ear and eyebrow rings. Between every match in the main mode, you’ll be treated to a cool, albeit quick, pre-rendered cinema introducing the egg that you are about to battle. The loading times between rounds tend to leave you tapping your fingers in anticipation though, which is odd seeing as how this game is made up entirely of simple 2D graphics. Aurally, you can expect unique and fitting musical numbers for each stage. Sound effects are simple, though charmingly so.
There is a lot to like about Egg Mania, mainly the fact that the premise and execution is solid and entertaining. The extra modes of play somewhat sweeten the deal but tend to feel like they were added in at the end of the development cycle. To get the most enjoyment out of this title, multiplayer is the way to go. The computer-controlled eggs can certainly hold their own on the higher difficulty settings but there is just no comparing to an actual human opponent. But aside from multiplayer and a few romps with the main mode, there just isn’t a whole lot here to keep you busy.