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Bolt Brain Teasers

Published by Scarsoft
Price $14.99
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

When Ben and Bean woke up this morning they were crushed to find they'd run out of their favourite breakfast cereal (why they kept an empty box, I don't know...) and decided to go out to pick some wild berries. They found a cake instead. Things then went from bad to worse - the cake was bait for a trap set by Eve Bolt. Now Ben is in her dungeon, accused of stealing said cake, and Bean is tasked with solving a fiendish series of puzzles to set him free.

The comic strip opening tells the tragic tale. Level one - this should be a doddle!

Bolt Brain Teasers is just that - a series of puzzles in which you look vertically down on each, using a limited number of operations to clear a route for Bean to reach the cake. These include rotating sets of four blocks, moving whole rows/columns of blocks, planting bombs and more besides. You can also move Bean around as often as you like. Some blocks restrict movement (for instance, preventing that row/column from moving or blocking rotation). If a bomb - either one you use or one already on the level - should blast Bean or the cake, you fail the puzzle. There are also mimic and reverse-mimic blocks that duplicate (the latter in reverse) any actions you perform.

All these amount to a range of simple elements that combine to make some complex puzzles. Bolt Brain Teasers is designed to stump puzzlers - after the easy tutorial levels, which demonstrate the different actions and some of the tricks you can do by combining them, the main levels get steadily tougher. Everything is done with mouse and there are no time limits to contend with. Bean is quite smart and can usually find his way to wherever you click, if the route is possible. If you get stuck, there are online hints and you can email the developer for help!

A rather more complex level. Bomb blasts will activate those blue blocks. Boom!

Graphics are fitting - everything is clear and cartoony, and different blocks are simple to distinguish. Bean is quite cute, though I'm not clear what kind of creature he actually is (a yellow rabbit, I think, or maybe a pikachu). The cartoon strip story is a nice touch, though it needs to be read from the main menu rather than on starting and so casual gamers may miss it. Some elements are better than others - for instance, Bean is a delight, but the bombs are remarkably flat in comparison to the wall blocks.

Sound consists of a limited number of simple sound effects, including bomb blasts and the rotating/sliding of blocks, and a few cheerful tunes. Background tracks are not continuous - if the music stops, it's stopped until you start the next level, but then again, if you spend hours rather than minutes on a puzzle, continuous music would be annoying rather than soothing. This aside, sound is inoffensive but not exceptional.

Bolt Brain Teasers is very easy to pick up. Everything is operated by mouse and, as the only movement is activated by your mouse clicks, you have all the time you need to plan your next move. Be sure to play through the tutorials as they will introduce the various operations and their effects - though the controls are simple, the puzzles get very complex. You can try the puzzles in any order, so if you get stuck, try a different one.

This is a puzzler for serious puzzlers. The aim of development was to create a puzzle game so difficult it would keep you thinking for a long time, and the later puzzles in the set certainly live up to this. Even a few of the basic ones had me thinking for a few minutes. If you like a brief challenge in your coffee break, you may find you need longer coffee breaks.

I didn't encounter any real problems with Bolt Brain Teasers. The hints can be rather light and perhaps several "layers" of hints (starter hints, stronger ones and then the whole or part solution) on the website would be more effective. Yes, there are players that may abuse this, but such players aren't interested in puzzling properly anyway. The difficulty of a puzzle is often due to scale - large puzzles that expect you to figure out how to operate two dozen operations in sequence are going to keep you going for hours if you have the inclination! - rather than new or cunning features.

Compared to the object interaction of Professor Fizzwizzle or the range of block types in many Sokoban variants, Bolt Brain Teasers comes up rather light on variety. That said, it's a good effort with plenty of future potential and a light and harmless way to spend some time.

Graphics 70%
Sound 60%
Playability 85%
Longevity 70%
Overall Score 70%
Bronze Star

Published on 14 Sep 2007
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

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