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Nintendo DS
SevenOne Intermedia
cdv Software Entertainment
TBA 2009

I Heart Geeks Preview

For players who loved The Incredible Machine on PC, there haven't really been many outstanding physics-based puzzlers on DS. Luckily, cdv Software Entertainment is bringing I Heart Geeks to DS to satisfy that gap in the library.

The game sets players up as the new kid in school, but unfortunately, jocks pretty much run the school and geeks get bullied if they wander too close. Also unfortunate is that you've been labeled a geek by the jocks. But seeing your predicament, the other geeks in the school welcome you into their secret club. The club’s mission is twofold: to get revenge against the jocks and to prove that geeks can win the hearts of cheerleaders. It's a fairly clichéd plot, but it gets the job done and doesn't intrude on the gameplay.

Going along with it's tongue-in-cheek story about school life, the game uses a cartoony art style that may remind gamers of older Saturday Morning Cartoons such as Pepper Ann and Disney's Doug. The art for the game was produced in cooperation with Mark Ecko Entertainment and features a charm that helps to draw the player into the game world. And players will want to be drawn into this one.

That's because the gameplay is excellent. The game features over a hundred puzzles that become increasingly difficult as the game progresses. Players are given a set amount of objects and a goal and they then have to take the object they've been given to bring about that goal. Because of this semi-open ended approach, there are often multiple ways to complete a challenge. In fact, the most annoying levels to come across are those that require specific placement of objects to bring about the goal. Thankfully, fifty challenges into the game there have only been two or three such challenges to overcome. In general, the game rewards lateral thinking and doesn't stifle player creativity.

The game also provides tutorials to help players get a grasp on the basic mechanics of each item. Unfortunately, these tutorials are not immediately accessible upon starting the game. There are two basic tutorials, but the rest are unlocked as players progress through the game. While new items are normally introduced during these tutorials, it was confusing to find a few levels early on that use electrical items before they’re properly explained. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed before the game is released later this year.

The only other valid complaint with the game comes from the control style. Specifically, the game requires players to flip between an inventory screen and an invention screen to place objects. Both of these screens require touch and it can be a little disorienting to flip between the two. Add to that the fact that the game only lets players bring five items with them from their inventory at a time, forcing players to continually flip between the two screens. There just isn't enough room on the DS's touch screen to incorporate both the inventory and the invention field. However, it seems like this problem could might be easily solved by locking the invention field to the touch screen and using the L and R buttons to pick between inventory objects. It would also have been nice to be able to use the help function on the invention field. The game will tell players where to place specific items, but by the time players flip from the inventory screen to the invention screen they will be unable to place the item exactly where the game said. Often, if the item is even slightly off, the puzzle will not be solved and players will have to flip back and tweak it.

Those complaints aside, I Heart Geeks is shaping up to be a great physics-based puzzler. It is accessible to both core and casual gamers, though the casual crowd will probably enjoy its pick-up-and-play nature more than core gamers. This game is not The Incredible Machine, but it does offer somewhat similar gameplay on the go. Nintendojo will bring you a more complete review on this game when it releases later year.

Staff Avatar Matthew Tidman
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"It's dangerous to go alone! Take this."

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