Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery
I knew about this game before Bytten did. Some part of my brain is hardwired to spot the name "Fizzwizzle" in any context, so I naturally found it when it was recently announced as in beta testing. Having played the previous two offerings from Grubby Games I practically leapt on this one. Professor Fizzwizzle is back!
The Professor is out exploring an island when he notices that there's some unusual activity taking place in the island's volcano. When he goes to investigate he meets up with former student Penny Pyroclast and her BatBots. What is she up to? There's no chance to find out as Penny orders her BatBots to take him back to the beach and scatter his gadgets across the island. It's up to you to help the Professor find his way back and stop whatever is happening.
Professor Fizzwizzle and the Molten Mystery (hereafter PFMM) is a sequel to the original Professor Fizzwizzle game (hereafter PF), and it seems they took a lot of suggestions from fans about the first one. I visited the website forums a few times and noted a number of bizarre ideas. We have a frost gun - what about a heat gun? What about teleporters? What about metal barrels? I can happily announce that all of these are here, and more besides. At heart the game is the same - three different paths that all lead to the volcano, each consisting of a number of puzzles. The Professor can climb ladders, fall off platforms and push crates and barrels about, but cannot jump. Your task - get to the exit point of each puzzle.
As before, different items have different properties. Crates can be pushed on grass and ice, but not on sand. Barrels can be pushed on sand but roll away from you on grass. Metal objects stick to magnets. You can freeze items with the frost gun, and frozen crates act like barrels. There are inflatable objects, there are batbots to avoid (or use to your advantage!) and pickups like the freeze gun and the EMP. There are several new additions to the puzzles, however - teleporters, collapsing bridges and the heat gun among them - and the addition of hot objects makes for a surprising range of interactions with other items.
The graphics in PFMM are very similar to the original PF, which is to say they retain the previous game's high quality. The Professor still dances if you leave him alone for a while! A number of minor things have been tweaked, however - the story book plot of the original has been superseded by a comic strip a la Fizzball, and the question mark hints no longer freeze the action and disappear when read but appear transparently when you stand over them. The island map (where you select the levels to play) clearly distinguishes between tutorial and regular levels, allowing experienced players to skip the training. Sound is much as in PF - a range of suitable noises accompany all events and there are several background music tracks of Grubby Games' usual high quality. Sound levels are adjustable for both effects and music.
The original PF is highly playable - and PFMM has taken note of player comments. As well as such adjustments as mentioned above, a few minor annoyances have been resolved, such as the 99% complete bug and the slightly anticlimactic ending. There are now only three paths (the "alphabet" route has been discarded, with the children's levels containing yet more insane ideas for children to giggle at) which, though this initially seems a bad thing, really makes things simpler instead. The new items add a surprising number of new elements to the puzzles and the Normal path staggers their introduction and effects most effectively. Strangely, though, the Professor can no longer push two barrels at once.
New features include an Undo function - reverse up to five actions! - in case you slip up, in addition to the original options to restart and to show the solution. The level editor is still there, but updated a little (the option to record your levels' solutions is now more obvious, for instance), and there is now a kind of scoring system in place - solve each puzzle in as few steps as you can. If you do particularly well, you can upload your results to Grubby Games' website.
It is very difficult to fault PFMM. The nearly perfect system of the first game has been refined even further for this one and many of my original complaints have now been removed. Many may feel that this is just another version of the original PF, but this is not just another round of puzzles; it feels much fresher. My biggest complaint is that the RageBots are now replaced by BatBots, which aren't quite as cute (but are a more sensible size when frozen!). Where are the Professor's robot friends? He seems to be all alone in this adventure.
Nonetheless, I am very happy to see the Professor again and look forward to seeing him in further adventures. Once again Grubby Games have provided a level editor - I'll have to see what goodies emerge from my own brain when I've reached the end of the existing ones. Better yet - you lot, go buy the game and make me some yourselves before I run out!
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