Day 121: Game about a soup factory

Posted: 2011/03/10 in Indie Games

Game about a Soup FactoryI’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #121, and today’s game is “Game about a soup factory”.

I felt like a puzzle game after several platformers, Trino, and a few RPGs in recent weeks, so decided to dip into my backlog of indie games, so decided to finally give “Game about a soup factory” a try. It’s a game where the presentation is more innovative than the gameplay, but I enjoyed both.

First, from the developer:

“An abstract/artistic fast paced puzzle game entirely in greyscale. Match the shapes to remove them before they encroach on your safe area, destroy multiple shapes at once for a combo bonus. Features a dynamic ambient soundtrack which builds spookily the closer to losing you get. Stores a previous best score.”

I was pretty sure I had played a game something like this before, and it turns out I had: Zoop.

Zoop was a puzzle game that was on just about every even reasonably popular platform in 1995: namely the Game Boy, Game Gear, Mega Drive/Genesis, Super NES, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Microsoft MS-DOS, and Macintosh. “Game about a soup factory” (GAaSF) is in a similar vein. Kitchen-related objects are constantly moving towards your square at the centre of the board. You can clear them away by shooting them, but there’s a catch: there’s a ghostly image of the current object you can shoot in the centre of the screen, and any of that object you shoot will disappear from the board. Shoot anything else, however, and the image in the centre of the board will change to what you shot, allowing you to start clearing that object from the board. There’s one more catch: when you shoot something with the intention of changing what you can clear from the board, as that item is selected it changes to something else.

Let’s say banana is the currently selected object. Any bananas that show up on screen you can shoot and clear from the board. Objects will show up behind other objects already on screen, pushing them closer, so you’ll eventually have to clear something other than banana away. If there’s a drinking mug that’s getting uncomfortably close, shoot a mug somewhere else on the screen and the ghostly imagine in the middle of the screen will change to the mug. You can now eliminate that mug that’s gotten too close for comfort, but the mug you shot to change your targeted selection will have transformed into another object (perhaps a banana, perhaps something totally unrelated). This demands some preplanning in what you shoot, in what order. Another wrinkle is when you get a row with more than one type of object. If your target object is mugs, and you have a row of a couple of mugs backed up by a banana, shooting it will clear the mugs and then select the banana. If that’s not entirely clear, then playing the trial will make it a whole lot clearer.

That, in a nutshell, is the game, but as you play you face a growing number of types of objects forcing you to change more rapidly back and forth between what targets you are able to eliminate, and the growing number of permutations and the strategies you’ll have to execute to make sure every shot leaves you with the object you’ll need for the next shot gives the game a lot of challenge.

The graphics are a moody grayscale, and your every movement and shot contributes to the soundtrack, giving it an interesting presentation that worked for me but won’t be for everyone. The game does retain your highscore, but like most XBL Indie Games from early 2009 does not have online leaderboards.

One thing to note: those of you playing through an HDMI cable won’t notice any problems, but those of you using component cables won’t clearly see the objects at the very top and bottom of the screen. This is not a problem with the game so much as a problem with the component video standard itself: it overscans significantly, and you don’t see the entire screen. Some indie games have a mode in their options where you can adjust for this, but this one does not (it’s in good company, very few XBLA or boxed retail games do either). I have three 360s set up in my household and definitely preferred this game through HDMI because of the overscan issue.

For anyone with a hankering for a “Zoop”-ish game, and especially for those who haven’t played a puzzle game of this type before, you will probably find this worth the 80 Microsoft Points. But HDMI is definitely preferred for this game.

Tried this already, then please vote below. About to download it? Please come back and vote after trying it.



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