The guys over at Nice Touch Games don’t seem to need to sleep. Barely a month has passed since we reviewed their excellent puzzle game, Crazy Horses and we are already sitting down to review the follow-up.
The game is a prequel to the original Crazy Horses and tells the story of just how there came to be so many horses roaming around America in the first title. Well, you will find out just who is responsible as you play Match Maker as it is your job to pair up like for like horses to become sweethearts.
The new game uses a lot of the assets of the first game, but fear not as it is a completely different title. Whereas in the original the horses were free roaming and you had to react to different elements on the fly, here the levels are far more structured and the horses are all stationary until the stage is completed. In essence, if the first game felt like an expanded Flight Control, this is far more of a traditional puzzle game with a set solution to each level.
Each level has a set number of horses all standing in different positions. You have to draw a path to connect all the horses of the same colour. Each pair of like coloured horses only has one horse that can be moved, while the other just sits and waits. Draw a line from one to the other for each pair correctly and when the last line is completed the horses will happily trot along it to find their partner. Sometimes a mate will request an item such as a carrot, and this must also be taken into consideration.
It isn’t as simple as that of course, as the catch is that you can’t cross any paths at all. This means that you have to find how to connect all the paths without crisscrossing, and this quickly becomes difficult as the designers have created some truly fiendish levels. The game uses a grid system for the line drawing, which does take a little getting used to, but there are a few user-friendly additions to make life easier. Any line you draw will remain there, even if you start work on another path, and can be returned to and amended at any time. Tapping the horse you started any line from will handily delete the line, and there are helpful sound effect to let you know when you have control of a path etc.
One small complaint is that it can be quite tricky to select a horse or path, as there is the always unavoidable finger being in the way.
The game is extremely compelling, and is the kind of puzzle game that demands total concentration and a lot of thinking. What I mean by this is that experimentation, while rewarding, won’t help much on the more difficult stages. You really have to sit back, take a long look at the stage and formulate a plan for finishing.
When you have finished a really tricky level and move on to the next and see that it looks even more difficult, it can be disheartening, but the very nature of the game will compel you to keep going and beat that seemingly impossible stage. When a game make you question if a stage is even possible, that moment of revelation when you finally figure it out is all the more satisfying.
The graphics and sound here are just as good as they were in the first game, and the developers have listened to one of the only criticisms for Crazy Horses and included 55 levels that will take much longer to play through than the original. Some levels will keep you stuck for a long time.
I really enjoyed Crazy Horses Match Maker, and actually spent more time with it than I did with its predecessor, but I can see that its appeal wont be as far-ranging as the first game, and people may find the difficulty too much. It is a great puzzle game, and will suck hours out of your life, and is part of that elusive group of puzzlers that when you stop playing and look up you feel as if you have just been awakened from a slumber. Just don’t look at the time and realise how long you have been playing!
A worthy continuation of the Crazy Horses franchise, and an excellent game in its own right.
Crazy Horses MM and your Windows Phone? A match made in heaven.