Overall Score 73%
For years, New Age believers have spoken of the power of crystals. Some speak of aliens using them in their spaceships to travel faster than light. The idea has some pseudo-scientific basis - crystals resonate to the right frequencies, they focus energy, and of course they power the starship Enterprise, so it must make sense.
Thus we have Crystal Power - a charming game with a very simple concept. Your task is to get aliens home by powering up their engines. To do this, you have a network of power tubes which are connected by crystals - you place the correct colour crystals to power up the tubes. Get enough going for our alien chums to reach the planet.
There are three crystal colours - red, blue and yellow. There are six tube colours, however - a red tube needs a red crystal at each end, a purple one needs a blue and a red. The tricky part is placing these crystals the right way round. Expert levels can also involve fitting tubes in the right places!
With cartoon aliens, bright colours and clear layouts, the graphics for Crystal Power are a little simplistic but very endearing. Animation is, however, minimal - the alien ships drift along and only truly animate when they reach the planet and 'land'. I do like the fact that there are several different aliens, and that you aren't simply getting the same one 'home' again and again.
The ingame music is... bizarre. Presumably this is what aliens listen to. There isn't a tune as such - more a pattern of beeps that sound a little like horns. It fits the game well and doesn't intrude on the gameplay, and I fully expect Mike Oldfield to pinch it for his next album. Sound effects are understandably limited, though there's a variety of 'whoosh' noises for crystals powering up.
Crystal Power is a very easy game to get into. Controls are (except for entering your name on the scoreboard) entirely mouse driven, and consist entirely of clicking - to place your crystals, etc. There's even a tutorial at the beginning of the standard (easier) game. At one point, though, I thought my mouse had packed up, because I couldn't put a crystal down. Eventually I realised that it was actually a tube. I had no idea prior to this that you COULD place tubes, which is something missing from the tutorial.
This IS a fairly addictive game, if puzzles are your thing - I was seeing coloured crystals and tubes on the back of my eyelids one night. Long term I'm not so sure - if you're good, you'll find it too easy after a while. And after the shock of being able to place tubes, the game gets fairly routine. There are only three crystal and six tube colours, no matter how far you get.
I like Crystal Power. It's a wonderful game with a simple premise, it's easy to learn, and the aliens are sweet. Maybe a little too easy for some adults, but perhaps ideal for their children. Though I think parents will want to try it too!
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