PEGBRJE: ‘Space Hole 2016’ and ‘Tap Strike BOOM!’
Space Hole 2016 is a marble maze puzzle game created by Sam Atlas, a solo indie dev based in the USA, and featuring the music of Beverly Crusher (not the doctor in Star Trek, the indie punk band). Players will commandeer a spaceship that has a strange flight problem, until it is housed properly within a marble-like ball to take on dozens of strange space stages in order to reach… the SPACE HOLE.
Rewinding back a bit, the game is set up in a Super Monkey Ball style in which the player starts at the top of the marble track and needs to navigate towards the end utilizing physics. Since the ball is the player, it can be given momentum by pressing any of the directional buttons, which can make it hard to understand and control for anyone unfamiliar with this style of game.
Once the controls are understood, however, the truest test begins as the levels start to introduce hazards that can send the ball careening off the cliff at a moment’s notice. The first region helps to establish an understanding of the possibilities, such as pushing over objects to create pathways, but it will soon get out of control with all of the strange ways that each level can be completed.
Using the system of completing a certain amount of levels to unlock different coloured regions, Space Hole 2016 is a hilariously strange trip that can get super addicting if left unchecked. Since everything can and will happen, every loss feels like it was juuuust out of reach and that the next attempt will be better, only for it to go horribly wrong in a completely unique way.
There is also the killer soundtrack thanks to Beverly Crusher, which I was 100% not expecting to hear as I was navigating a maze but it was a lovely addition to the game.
If you are a fan of marble puzzles with a side of indie punk rock, this might be a great game to try out. And there are two more games in the series to play if you’re hungry for more.
Tap Strike BOOM! is a logic puzzle game created by Alberto SM, a solo indie developer. Inspired by the minigame ‘Voltorb Flip’ in the Pokemon series, players will go mining for crystals in the hopes of passing through the ‘Mystical Gate of the Heavens’ while avoiding the dreaded bombs.
Each level will present a 5x5 grid of squares, each flipped upside down. On the sides will be two sets of numbers in orange and red rectangles. The Orange ones inform the player of the sum of the row or column, while the red gives the number of bombs. Default crystals equal to 1, while the ones that the player are hunting for equal 2 or 3.
This is where the logic kicks in, as the goal is to get the highest score possible by completing each solution with the fewest number of uncovered tiles. Only crystals worth 2 or 3 count towards the bottom total and completion of the round, so every 1 crystal collected only confirms that they are not bombs.
Deduction is key as players will be slowly knocking down each row’s possibilities for bombs and their locations, using the previously known crystals to deduce where the new ones are. To assist, there is a ‘strikethrough’ mode triggered at the top, which can ‘strikeout’ a node rather than uncovering it to help remember which ones to not flip.
While only 10 levels long, it proves once again that logic puzzles can be just as fun as any other puzzle game if it is given the right touch. The aesthetics are fantastic, with a great soundtrack and lovely interface to interact with the puzzle board as you go. If you lack confidence in a particular puzzle, you can utilize a hint before you start that uncovers a row and column, but since there are only 10 stages this can trivialize a lot of the game if used every time. Nevertheless, it is a necessary tool for those that may not enjoy logic puzzles that much.
If you do like puzzles, however, this is a fantastic game that can go on any device of your choosing. Even failure is fun, since the levels randomize to ensure that no two are ever the same. Good luck!