Diamonds System 1.0
I sometimes wonder when reviewing games on Bytten if I'm a little bit generous. While some games have rightly deserved high praise, I have always tried to dwell on the positive aspects of those weaker games created by younger, less experienced developers. I have been somewhat defeated by Diamonds System, in that my usual platform for reviewing (my Dell laptop running XP) utterly failed to load it. Fortunately, I have a few alternatives to test games out on - the desktop machine in the study (also on XP) runs the game well enough to play. But not perfectly...
The game loads. But straight away, a curious message from Norton Internet Security - "Diamonds System is attempting to access the Internet". Why?! There's no need for a fairly simple puzzle game to access the Internet, and for apparently no reason. If this is something to do with (say) updating high scores, an option to connect would be better and in any event, it would be nice if it commented on the lack of a connection rather than simply shutting down without so much as a message box, as on my laptop.
This seems to be the only valid reason for the failure on my laptop, which has no Internet connection whatsoever. But I'm less sure as to why the game is happy to play on the desktop machine, even when the Internet connection has been blocked (at Norton's recommendation).
Enough about this for the time being. Surely I can forgive the game for this oddity and dwell on the positive again? Erm... not really. Once you avoid the bizarre failure to get past a split second splash screen and onto the game itself, you find a mediocre puzzler with little to hold the attention. The object is to move diamonds (strange shaped gems in a variety of colours) onto their corresponding boxes. Move them sideways (as well as some other objects) by dragging them with the mouse. Gravity drags all things down to the bottom of the puzzle.
Many objects exist to help or hinder. Soap bubbles hover in midair, sinking when objects fall on them and useful to put out fires. Fires destroy rocks, obstacles that roll off the edges of things a la Boulderdash. Coloured balls get in the way but can be moved and removed by touching balls of the same colour. These things all conspire to use up your limited Retries, and you have a generous time limit each puzzle.
Graphics are - well, fairly bland. Some interesting backdrops would cheer things up a little. The various objects are okay, and some even animate (such as the soap bubble), but these are the minority. Objects also slide rather oddly, stop/starting as you move them, but this is most bizarre when (say) watching a cascade of rocks. In all, the graphics are functional but little else.
Things are pretty much at the functional level again when it comes to sound. Effects are limited - soap bubbles pop and diamonds go "gling" when they land on the correct boxes but many objects are crying out for effects. Why don't rocks make any noise? I'd love a big rumbly avalanche as a dozen rock sound effects play at once. Instead we are treated to a single, repeating backing track from loading the game up to quitting (or otherwise having it end).
Diamonds System is not the most playable of games, either. Moving objects involves clicking on them with the mouse and dragging them across into the next square. You have to do this repeatedly if you're dragging a ball or gem more than one space. This is made harder if (as happened a couple of times) my mouse cursor disappeared, or if the gem you try to drag merely refuses to co-operate. If there are keyboard equivalents, I haven't yet found them.
Most alarming of all, I have repeatedly found Diamonds System closing itself down after a single game. Having used up all my retries, I enter a name for the hiscore table (this too is occasionally obstinate) and am greeted with my Windows desktop. DS has closed itself down. If this is related to the lack of an Internet connection, I don't know how. Or why.
Even for a gem-matching puzzle game, Diamonds System is not something you'll be repeatedly drawn back to. Numerous bizarre technical glitches only serve to reduce the shelf life still further. There's a good puzzle game idea hidden in there somewhere, but you'll need to work hard to find it through all the mediocrity.
Keywords: diamonds system 1.0 review, valsoft reviews, valsoft games, diamonds system 1.0 scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.