Clever Hamster Games' Pixel Quartet [99¢] is a perfect example of a really unique puzzle game that came out of nowhere on the App Store. It recently popped up on our radar, and I've been trying my hardest to play through it. The thing is, it's incredibly difficult, especially if you're not very good at matching musical tones. I'm not sure how much of a "review" I can offer, as I admittedly got stuck fairly early on in the game, but I'll lay out the basic premise for musical warriors greater than I to take up their sword in attempt to vanquish the puzzles in this game.
At its most basic, gameplay in Pixel Quartet involves listening to a short musical track that only consists of a few notes. These notes are then represented by a ball that rolls across a grid, and in order to replicate the short clip you heard initially you need to position notes and directional arrows on the grid. Whenever the ball hits one of these tiles, it plays a musical note. The level is complete once you figure out where to position the arrows and musical notes to make the ball follow a path to repeat the initial musical loop three times.
Sound hard? That's because it is. The next level has you managing not one, but two balls, each which must play a separate musical loop. Further on, you're faced with managing even more loops and recreating them with the finite space of the game grid along with the various tiles you're allowed to drag on to it. These tiles do things like change the pitch of a note, make the ball pause for a number of beats, and more.
In order to solve each puzzle, you need to have each ball playing one of the musical loops laid out at the beginning of the level, and it has to repeat each time. You also have to avoid the balls crossing paths, adding an even greater wrinkle of difficulty.
I'd guess for most people, this level of difficulty will result in quite a bit of frustration. Often your loops can just barely be off, and fixing them requires reassembling all or most of your loops. Similarly, if you don't have a discerning ear, matching the pitch of each of the notes can involve an irritating amount of trial and error. I can hardly fault the game for this though, as I've told a few friends of mine who fancy themselves musicians who also love iOS puzzle games and they've reported having a fantastic time with the game. I'm just not the target audience.
If you're the kind of person who likes puzzle games with a difficulty level easily disguised as "brutal", and you've got an ear for music, Pixel Quartet is a game that you simply must try. To sweeten the deal, it's even universal for both the iPhone and iPad. I wish a lite version was available, as I feel this is a game that you'll be able to tell which side of the love/hate fence you're on within a few moments of playing. Regardless, at 99¢, it shouldn't be that big of a leap of faith to slam the "download now" button if this at all sounds interesting to you.
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