Have you ever played a game on your mobile phone and thought "Hey, this would be great on my PC"? If anything, you've probably thought the exact opposite as proper PC and console games get shrunk down to mobile proportions. Puzzle game miXem deluxe takes a popular phone game and expands it to suit your PC.
miXem takes the form of a block puzzler, requiring you to remove lines of three of more same-coloured stones as new rows get pumped up from the floor at an ever increasing pace. We've seen countless versions of this game before but miXem takes the format further by forcing you to mix your own colours!
The game starts easy by giving you red and yellow stones. You can't group these colours together so you have to mix them to make special orange stones. These new orange stones can then be used to make lines which will crack open to reveal treasure which is added to your score.
Once you've become used to red and yellow, you'll start to see blue stones appear. Mix blue with yellow to make green or blue with red to make purple and things start to get complicated, especially during the main Depth Quest mode and Endless mode where new rows can be added at a relentless pace after a few minutes.
Fortunately, you do get some help whilst trying to shift the stones. If the stones aren't filling up quickly enough you can hit a lever that raises more from the ground - especially useful in the early stages where you can be left waiting. You can also use lava to burn away rows of stones by clicking powered-up statues along the left side of the playing field.
For the most part, miXem is very enjoyable. Graphics are worthy of the games' Deluxe moniker, audio is great throughout and everything is nicely polished. Despite the many stong points, the game is far from being the next Tetris, at least not in this PC version.
It's hard to say exactly where miXem falls short of being excellent. The play mechanic is a good one, controls are well implemented and the game maintains an extremely professional feel throughout, yet playing any of the three game modes just isn't as much fun as it could be.
I think the reason for this is with the mixing of colours - a feature that is both miXem's biggest strength and weakness. To begin with, merging different stones and moving blocks around is an original pleasure but as the speed cranks up and more colour combinations are added, I started to be frustrated by this feature, especially when I was left with a screen full of red blocks and no yellow blocks to use for mixing.
This lack of mixer stones was partly my own fault, I should have been more careful in my planning but the issue does exist and can leave you in a tight spot. The mixing of stones as the game picks up pace is another area where miXem loses its charm as you move from purposeful mixing to a trial and error chore of dragging stones around.
Ultimately, miXem Deluxe just doesn't have the immediacy of the original block games like Columns and whilst it is to be applauded for pushing the genre out further and making you think harder, the applause die down too quickly to make this game a truly essential purchase.
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