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Review: Numba

This is a re-print of an article originally posted on another site, included here so that the blog is a complete repository of my written work. The article is reproduced without pagination, formatting, images or editorial changes made on the original site prior to original publication.

If Sony bothered to market Minis properly, Numba would become an instant classic. All you have to do is find number sequences on a grid by holding X and dragging the box across the numbers (which don’t have to be in a straight line as long as they are adjacent to each other). The selected numbers then disappear, the blocks drop down and new numbers appear at the top.

Wow, that’s boring. Actually it’s stupidly addictive. I have found myself playing this game at random hours of the day ever since I got it.

The sequences can be all the same number (1, 1, 1, 1), ascending or descending (1, 2, 3), doubling or halving (1, 2, 4, 8), odds and evens (1, 3, 5; 2, 4, 6), steps (1, 5, 9) and so on. The minimum sequence length is 3, there is no maximum, and each cell has a number from 1 to 9. Some blocks have multiplier bonuses and you can also build up your points by creating runs of five ascending numbers or more (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.), long doubling chains or by finding for example six 6s or nine 9s. Some blocks also give you a “jumble” to use later if you make a sequence with them, which lets you randomly re-assign all the tiles if you can’t spot a move. You can have a maximum of five jumbles at a time.

A number of special tile types exist: fire tiles and ice tiles, chameleon tiles which count up by one on each turn, vanish tiles which are only usable on alternate goes, and so on. No real explanation is needed here to suffice to say that it’s all designed to mess with your head and works admirably.

Classic mode sees you playing through 66 levels against the clock. These start simple with only the numbers 1-3, then they start winding you up with grids full of only 6s and 9s, grids full of only vanish tiles and so on. By the end when everything comes into play, it’s a real mind job. Once you hack through that you can blow your mind with 84 puzzles where you have to clear the tiles on a pre-determined board without missing any. Finaly there is Timeless mode which simply lets you play without a timer or resetting the board at the end of each level, until you run out of moves and have no jumbles left: a pure high score battle.

The difficulty curve is good; both Classic and Puzzle start off very gently, get very difficult by the end and have no annoying difficulty spikes. The music is also quite nice in this game, three relaxing jazz-type themes that are completely inoffensive and don’t get annoying particularly quickly. You can also make four player profiles so competing for high scores with your friends on the same PSP is no problem.

I could pick on this game if I really wanted to: there are no difficulty settings; puzzle mode doesn’t impose a maximum number of moves you can make; and by far the most annoyingly, the developers saw fit to use circle for select and X for back so the menus will drive you nuts (fortunately X is used to select tiles in the game itself).

But really, this has to be the ultimate pick-up-and-play minis title I’ve played so far (out of about 15 games). You can dive in and out, and it has exactly the same kind of addictivity, re-playability and time-wasting potential as Bejeweled. And the price? A derisory £1.24. How can you possibly go wrong?


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