Tecmo Stackers is a highly addictive, Tetris-style puzzle game that's easy enough for anyone to play, yet complex enough to transfix even the best gamers for hours at a time. If you're a PlayStation-puzzler fan, Stackers is what you've been waiting for.
Stackers' gameplay looks simple, but it can become quite maddening. Different-colored blocks drop from the top of the screen two at a time. Your goal is to guide them to the bottom and line up at least four blocks of the same color to make them disappear. Once that group is gone, the different-colored blocks all around it literally stretch out and try to connect with blocks of the same color. If four blocks of a like color connect, a chain reaction occurs and added blocks fall on your opponent's side of the screen (this also gives you time to talk a little trash in the two-player mode).
Gamers can test their skill in five levels of difficulty, from Easy to Insanity, and four modes. While the two-player games really tear the house down in a feverish pace, the one-player games lack the same intensity, and after a few rounds are only good for practicing two-player strategy.
Stackers' graphics and sounds don't quite stack up. The blocks goo across the screen to grab other blocks, and while it's cool to look at, it's also kind of disturbing. The sound is beyond annoying as the awful music makes you want to rip the speakers out of your TV.
If you're looking for a fun two-player puzzle game, step up to Stackers. Despite the so-so audio and visuals, this addiction is well worth the price.
- Avoid stacking blocks in the middle of the screen. If your middle section is high and your opponent drops a ton of blocks on you, there might not be any room for your new blocks to drop, and you'll lose.
- Plan your next move by watching the preview screen to see which blocks are about to fall in the next three drops.
- Stack blocks in groups of three. That way, when a row gets eliminated around them, they will have a better chance of falling into a chain reaction.
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Puyo Puyo (a.k.a. Kirby's Avalanche and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine) should be sincerely flattered. After all, Tecmo Stackers imitates everything that made Puyo Puyo a hit. The problem is, in Tecmo's attempt to put a twist on a classic formula, they made the formula slightly worse. The egocentric Tecmo (have you seen any company with such a fixation on their own name?) decided that big Chain Combos would hook all us puzzle game freaks in, so they made it as easy as possible to get big numbers. When you make a match, each surrounding piece shoots out a phallic little extension to reach others of its kind (no social commentary here, please). If this produces more matches, then you get your Chain Combos. Why is this bad? You can get huge combos by random luck. If you pile enough same-colored pieces close to each other, you're bound to get a combo, whether you like it or not. I've seen newcomers pull seven-hit chains out of their you-know-what's. To me, that's not a sign of a well-designed puzzle game. On a positive note, the chain reaction mode is a lot of fun, and the roulette wheel is the greatest invention in the history of two-player competitive puzzle games (the wheel helps you get out of impossible garbage block situations). In the end though, I'd still rather play Puyo Puyo.
Three years ago, Tecmo Stackers would've been a great puzzle game, but right now it's just slightly above average if you ask me. It plays a lot like Kirby's Avalanche (Puyo Puyo) but without much character charm or familiar graphics. The additional modes of play (like Insane Mode and Time Trial Mode) are pretty cool, and playing head-to-head with a friend can be a lot of fun, but there's not enough new here to sell me.
At first glance, your mind will scream, "Columns!!" Luckily, Stackers has a lot more technique than Columns ever did, plus a funny character cast to battle each step of the way. Because of its Column-esque interface, anyone can pick it up and play, but only those who learn the new squeeze-and-combine techniques will advance beyond even the third level. It's a shame multicombos are easy once you learn the trick.
The game is fun, there's no doubt about that, but I didn't get into it as easily as I did with Puzzle Fighter, Baku Baku or Tetris Attack. It certainly has its good points (cool blocks with long feelers, cool chain system, etc.) but the music and graphics really got to me. The characters weren't that great-looking and the backgrounds looked terrible. The music also needed A LOT of work-let's just say it was what people do to suckers.
In the last year or so, the popularity of Tetris-style puzzle games has increased tenfold (thanks largely in part to the Super NES masterpiece, Tetris Attack). Tecmo Stackers is the latest addition to the ever-growing puzzle game genre, and despite being somewhat similar to a majority of the big-name puzzle games out there. Stackers offers enough of its own unique flavor to warrant a look from even the most jaded puzzle fans.
Stackers is, as the game's subtitle explains, "A Game of Chain Reactions." Similar in basic play mechanics to Puyo-Puyo (Kirby's Avalanche or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine in the U.S.) or even Baku Baku, the object of the game is to eliminate your opponent by building up stacks of colored blocks and then igniting fierce chain reactions that inevitably unload loads of useless transparent pieces on your opponent's stack (which essentially get in the way of them performing their own chains).
Sounds just like the aforementioned games, right? Well the difference, albeit a minor one, is that in Stackers, your "blocks" are actually little faces that when hit by other blocks, stretch out arms to the left and right that will attach to other blocks of the same color and eliminate them (as long as there are four or more blocks of the same color touching). So in essence, you might drop a block that would've only eliminated one or two sets of blocks normally, but instead started a huge chain reaction because the arms stretched out to otherwise unreachable blocks and attached to them (thus eliminating them). In addition, there is a roulette meter at the top of each playfield, and when you set off a chain, the "wheel" starts spinning; where you stop it will determine where your safe spot is the next time a batch of blocks gets dumped on you. It may sound confusing, but in actuality it makes for a surprisingly fun game with a good amount of strategy thrown into the action.
Currently, the version we're previewing has three playable modes (Arcade, Time Trial and Chain Reaction), but the final is expected to have five modes of play in total. The Arcade Mode is the standard one- or two-player game, while the Time Trial Mode is a race to create as many chains as possible in the shortest amount of time.
The Chain Reaction Mode offers a cool twist; the playfield is actually three or four screens high (you can scroll up and down or zoom out to view it), and the object is to build as large a chain reaction as humanly possible (which isn't TOO difficult, considering the vast amount of space you have, but still fun nonetheless).
Fans of traditional falling block puzzle games looking for old-school action with some cool new twists would be wise to check out Tecmo Stackers, due for release later this year.
- MANUFACTURER - TECMO
- THEME - PUZZLE
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Tecmo Stackers looks like a cross between Kirby's Avalanche and a Baku Baku style of title. Little is known about this import, but the game does look like a fun title that could be really enjoyable while playing by yourself or possibly gainst a friend. Look for more information.