Title Atomino Game Type Puzzle Publisher Psygnosis Players 1 Compatibility Works on all chipsets. (1 MB Required) HD Installable Yes Submission Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer Review BRIEF DESCRIPTION Atomino is a puzzle-game, kind of loosely based on the jigsaw puzzle concept, except it can be completed with different arrangements of the pieces (atoms). The game is played against the clock, with other constraints added later to ramp up the difficulty. This game reminds me of Pipe Dream / Pipemania. It also has a little taste of Tetris in there, so might also appeal to fans of the many Tetris/Jewel/Puyo-puyo games out there too. The basic goal is to build the required number of Atoms, initially on a clean board. The number and size of the required atoms increase on later levels, as do elements on the board that limit where you can build. Pressure to complete the task is in the form of the stack of atoms you are supplied with. New atoms are regularly added to this stack, so if you don't use them quick enough the stack fills up and the game ends. SPECIAL HARDWARE/SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS Works on any 1 Meg Amiga, with either keyboard or joystick. COPY PROTECTION Code lookup in the manual. At the end of the first completed level you be required to refer to the manual and enter a code to continue. Only happens the first game, so I don't consider it too intrusive. MACHINES USED FOR TESTING A4000, 2Meg Chip, 112Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Apollo 4040 daughter board (68040 at 40MHz, with SCSI and 96Meg of local RAM), PicassoIV Graphics Card, VLab video-digitiser, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, 2 internal floppy-drives, Supra 14.4k Modem, Viewsonic E70 17" SVGA monitor. A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 Multisync monitor. (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU without FPU) A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD, GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI), additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor. A1200, 2Meg Chip, 4Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 120 Meg Quantum 2.5" HDD, GVP Ram expansion board (2 SIMM slots and 68882 FPU slot only), additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, Thompson PAL monitor. A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive, Thompson PAL monitor. (Standard Amiga's seemed fine. The 030+fastram machines needed some simple degrading to fix minor sound issues. The 040 gave some issues, needing serious software degrading and booting with no startup.) FIRST IMPRESSIONS This game has the usual Graphic and Sound polish I'd expect from a Psygnosis release. It looks stylish, not just functional. There is good use of colour to distinguish the various types of atom. The sounds are nice, suit the game well, and are backed up by an even better soundtrack. These design elements add real polish to what is otherwise a rather simple puzzle game. The control method is well designed - not at all awkward or over-sensitive. Puzzle games where you die because of awkward controls are just plain annoying. The initial loading of the game from floppy does take some time. A side-effect of it being a standard AmigaDOS disk, with lots of data files. If installed on to the Hard-Drive it loads much, much quicker, but I haven't found this game to be particularly tolerant of some nonstandard workbenches. Be prepared to be booting from no startup if you've spent some time 'enhancing' yours. The object of the game is to form molecules of a certain size. A molecule is comprised of several atoms, and is considered 'complete' when every atoms' electrons are paired with those of its neighbours. The player is given atoms with a varying number of electrons, which determines how many atoms it must have next to it to be complete. (The electrons rotate around the nucleus, so there is flexibility in the positioning of other atoms.) The game is easy to get into. Atoms can be placed anywhere on the board, and easily replaced. The basic gameplay is soon grasped, and then its addictive nature takes hold. Constraints and new elements are introduced as the game progresses to add interest and challenge. Bonus maps appear every few levels to break the tension. They also force a change in mental tack, as the they impose severe restrictions on atom placement. Tricks like placing un-needed atoms off to the side won't work here. And on completing every other bonus level a password is awarded, so you can get straight into the real mental athletics the next time. GENERAL OPINION The difficulty-curve of Atomino is nice. No sudden jumps in gameplay complexity or restrictions, so it's usually possible to get a little further the next time you play. While the regular appearance of bonus levels and new game elements keep up the interest, and stops it feeling like a constant slog to advance. (The occasional new element can make you stop for a second and wonder what the heck to do next, but this is what makes a puzzle game fun, and keeps you on your toes.) The basic free-form nature of the arrangements the player can create is nice. Players can create the molecules however they like, and can try for point bonuses by constructing atoms larger than required. The goals are dictated by the game, but the path to them is largely up to the player. As a result it's one of those puzzle-games that really keeps your mind working. The game doesn't continually prod you in the right direction, it's entirely up to you to decide the best arrangement, you're just encouraged to do it quickly. And if the main goal is proving a bit challenging, you can buy some time by creating little 'junk' atoms off in a corner. They don't contribute to the level completion, but they keep the stack empty, and add to the score. Incomplete molecules subtract from the score at the end of the level, so efficient use of your resources is rewarded. I'm not quite sure what type of gamer I would recommend this title to. I'm not a huge fan of the puzzle genre, yet this title grabbed me by the collar and told me in no uncertain terms that I would be addicted. And gosh darn it, I was! If you like Tetris, Jewel, Puyo-Puyo, or Pipe Dream, almost certainly this will be your cup of tea. If you've had a vague interest in them at some point, you might find yourself unexpectedly suprised at the addictive qualities contained in one small Atomino disk. CONCLUSIONS A highly playable, and even original puzzle game. Simple to learn the basics, but with enough subtle complexity and continual gameplay tweaks to keep it interesting. An entertaining title that keeps you thinking. Incidently, there is a C64 version that I'm aware of. Possibly there are other ports too, but I would find it hard to believe that any of them could beat what has been achieved on the Amiga. The gameplay cannot be faulted, and the exceptional presentation raises it to a higher level again.