I’m definitely a gameplay purist, but
aesthetics and audio are more important than I give them credit for.
I’d confidently argue that it is in no way necessary they be notable.
However, they can not only help to ease the barrier of entry for a game
but they can create an atmosphere of importance and meaning. They can
inspire emotions that are complimentary to the gameplay experience.
Pure gameplay alone can absolutely be art but without intriguing sights
and sounds, the argument of “games as art” would be much more difficult
to present. Route Candle
is a brilliant iPhone/Touch game that could simply get by on its great
puzzle gameplay alone, but the developers have wrapped it in an
atmosphere that makes the game even more of a joy to return to.
If you have never played ChuChu Rocket! then you are doing a disservice to yourself and those around you who could be playing it with you. Route Candle is a bit like ChuChu Rocket! mixed with Pikmin
and Golf. You take the role of a guide for an adorable little flame
person who must navigate mazes, gathering little matchstick people and
lighting candles along the way. If that sounds like a cuteness and
madness smoothie then let me tell you it tastes delicious. It’s only
amplified by really well done crayon-like art with cool flame and heat
effects, cheerful yet dignified piano music, happy Japanese voice
acting (sometimes sounds like Donald Duck!) and more polish than you
might normally expect from an iPhone/Touch game.
The rules are a
bit difficult to describe and even the developers seemed to have
problems doing so. The in-game instructions are a bit vague but serve
the purpose well-enough and you’ll quickly sort out the vital bits.
Further rules and tips can be found on the game’s website.
Basically, you have a set limit of flags you can place in a maze and
you can’t place flags on tiles occupied by something else. Think of
placing flags like taking strokes in golf. (You even have a set par in
each stage.) When you place a flag, the little flame guy will try to
take the shortest route to it. He has trouble turning, however, and
will only do so when he must (hitting walls and dead ends). This means
you must place flags strategically and advantageously as the little
flame won’t always want to take the route you require. The goal in each
stage is to light all candles present with the appropriate number of
matchsticks specified. As the flame walks past matchsticks scattered
throughout each stage, they will follow him. Walking over a candle’s
marker will cause the flame to expend matches to light the candle but
only if he has enough matchsticks following him to do so. There are
also various items, obstacles and traps around each level that will
typically make things more difficult. If the player is able to light
all the candles in a stage without running out of flags, the stage will
be complete. If you’re still confused, visit the site link above and/or
watch this trailer.
Route Candle has 50 stages in all and the replay value is greatly increased by its stages’ excellent design and diversity, as well as it complex scoring system.
There are several factors that can increase one’s score in any given
stage and it’s rarely immediately certain what the highest score one
can achieve is. This means you you’ll be spending a lot of time with
this game. I often found myself repeating stages, going for higher
scores, being surprised by what I could pull off, and having a lot of
fun doing so. While it’s more pricey than the average iPhone/Touch game
at $3.99 USD, I can confidently say it’s worth it!