Overall Score 80%
This week we have a game about lightbulbs. Other things as well, but lightbulbs seem particularly prominent. This is probably no surprise to our Japanese readers, since Hikari means "Light" or "Luminescence". Or at least, that's what GamesResearch's website told me.
Hikari is a puzzle game with one of several objectives, the most common of which is to 'turn on all the lights'. These lights include a collection of lightbulbs, from the 25-watt blue bulb and the 60-watt red bulb, through to traffic lights and fragile bulbs that explode if turned on twice. When turned on, 25-watt bulbs also light up the bulbs above, below and either side. 60-watt bulbs light up all eight surrounding squares. The challenge is that turning on a light will turn OFF any lit ones around it!
There are other objects too - bombs blow things up, turntables move objects around, flippers swap two objects over. You score points for every puzzle you solve, and bonus points for doing so in as few moves as possible. You need a certain amount of points to access later puzzles, so the better you do the more puzzles you can attempt.
Hikari is very cute. The graphics are clear and simple, the game tiles large enough to use easily - but the most lasting image is the smiling faces on the lightbulbs! Animation is understandably limited, but subtly and professionally done. The backgrounds to the game screen are pretty too; a starry, starry night to make Don McLean proud. My only problem was with the puzzle selection screen - maybe it's just my ancient graphics card, but the previously completed puzzle names only became readable when my mouse moved over them.
The cuteness continues with the music, though slightly less successfully. The tune sounds like a baby's Fisher Price toy, and there's even an authentic 'click' sound at the end before it repeats. The problem here is that the sweet, tinkly lullaby gets rather repetitive after a while. A variety of tunes would help to counter this.
There are heaps of puzzles to attempt, and the clever use of points to unlock harder puzzles is particularly good. Controls are very simple (just click on a tile to operate it) and everything is very intuitive. Beware when playing in a window at resolutions of 800x600 or less - Hikari tends to cut off the very bottom of the play area if you do, which makes the restart/abandon buttons near impossible to click on!
Hikari is an unusual and interesting game, with plenty of puzzles to keep you going. And smiling lightbulbs, which you won't find in many other games.
Keywords: hikari review, gamesresearch reviews, gamesresearch games, hikari scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.