Puzzle games are all the rage these days on the PlayStation Store and to that note I introduce to you Critter Crunch from Canadian developers Capybara Games. I've been waiting on Critter Crunch's release ever since I was first shown footage of the game earlier in the year and when I heard the news that the game was finally coming to the European store I was happy as Larry.
Before I even start going into the game itself, it's worth an early mention on how cheap the game is to buy. Priced at the wallet friendly £4.29 you can't really argue, especially when you look at other puzzle games in the store, most of which aren't as good. Anyway, excellent price aside let's talk about more of the good stuff.
Critter Crunch is a simple puzzle game with a twist. You play the part of Biggs, an adorable creature whose job it is to crunch the population of critters, having to clear the screen of descending foes and in doing so collecting jewels which after popping a critter, fall to the floor. Popping two or more critters simultaneously provide you with combos, and more importantly greater value jewels, boosting your high score. The popping of a critter might sound complicated, but it's really simple once you get the grasp of what you are trying to do.
There are three basic critters; small, medium and large. Using Biggs' tongue you have to feed the medium critters with the small and the large fiends with the medium. The medium and large critters also have a different colours and placing two or more of the same coloured critters next to each other, popping either of them will make all explode, providing you with a greater score.
Critter Crunch offers four single player modes as well as two available online. The main single player game is the adventure mode where you are based on an island shaped like Australia, moving from point to point completing all the various different levels. Some levels contain more tricky obstacles, for example only having three columns to move between instead of the average eight, or they might give you specific rules like being unable to pop any medium sized critter.
Levels become more difficult the further you advance, but completing them also allows you to play bonus levels; this is where the puzzle games come into play. The puzzle games are my personal favourite as they give you a specific amount of moves in order to clear the screen and have each critter popped. Completing parts of the adventure mode also unlocks more puzzles to complete individually and trust me, it will keep you up all night until you have almost exhausted all possible routes for the harder of these. When you do pop all critters though you will be grinning from ear to ear.
The other game mode 'Survival' can be played both co-operatively over the PlayStation Network, with a local friend, or playing on your lonesome to get some crazy high scores. This mode is really fun and as time goes by, yet can also get very crazy with the amount of critters on the one screen. It is also crucial to make good use of the available power-ups in the game; garlic which moves the line of critters back up a space, spray which changes the colours of the critters to the same colour so they can all be popped at once, and watermelon which allows you to shoot pips at specific critters to remove them. There are also some further power-ups to encounter, but those are my favourites.
If you have exhausted all that single player has to offer, you can head online and play with or against an opponent. There are only two player modes available which is a shame as I think the game could easily cope with up to four players, but it is still extremely fun. Playing co-operatively revolves around survival mode, however playing against an opponent puts your quick solving puzzle skills to the test. If you aren't fast at popping critters, your opponent will most probably will be, meaning the faster he clears his screen, the faster you will lose. You can also collect bonus power-ups which affect your opponent's screen, making it either blurry or adding an extra line to their game; all in all the aim is to fold your opponent. I haven't experienced any lag or had any trouble finding a game which can always be a problem for puzzle games online, but thankfully not in this case.
Graphically the game is outstanding, especially on my HDTV. You could argue that the game is only in 2D so how hard can it be? Well all of the critters, as well as Biggs, are so artistic and oozing with colour it just makes you enjoy the game even further. Just look at the screens for yourself and you will see what I mean.
Overall Critter Crunch is one of the best puzzle games available on the market I've experienced. Priced at the insanely cheap £4.29 it would be rude of you not to purchase this highly addictive and fun game. There is a demo available as well so I highly recommend you download this as a minimum requirement to get a good feel for the game. Anyway, I'm off to pop some critters.