Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Puzzle Games #16

Dweep Gold (1999)
By: Dexterity Software Genre: Puzzle / Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC
Also Available For: Nothing

Lots of danger headed Dweep's way it seems...
The world of video games is full of irresponsible oafs who you have to bail out of trouble and this game features another. Meet Dweep, a perpetually jumping purple gonk-like creature who has apparently lost his babies. Unfortunately they haven't just climbed into an open wardrobe or something - they've instead ended up in a dangerous maze! Dweep is therefore rather anxious to retrieve them sharpish, presumably before his better half arrives home and wraps a rolling pin around his head. To do this he needs you to guide him through a number of single-screen mazes which each contain several little Dweeps (all huddled together, luckily). I'm not sure if that means he has an inordinate number of children or if he just keeps losing the same ones over and over, but either way he seems to be a bit of a bumbling oaf.

Some Heat Plates, Freeze Plates, and lots of bombs...
There are lots of mazes standing between poor Dweep and a happy family too. The original Dweep game had thirty stages itself but this 'Gold' edition offers five 'free' bonus stages and two expansion packs of twenty additional stages each. Eeek, that's a lot of head-scratching! All stages consist of a screen of 16x10 tiles, many of which will be occupied by blocks (usually pyramids) which Dweep cannot pass, but the rest consist of either bare floor tiles, a special tile (Freeze Plates or Heat Plates which freeze or inflate Dweep respectively), items to collect, or hazards/obstacles. Items include lasers, bombs, water, wrenches, mirrors, torches, fans, and hammers, and they are stored in your inventory at the bottom of the screen once collected. They can then be selected and used on any 'vacant' tile you like at any time.

Look! There's Dweep in the top-left corner!
Most stages will already have some of these items in place as well - lasers, bombs, mirrors, and fans comprise the existing obstacles as well as the aforementioned Freeze and/or Heat Plates, and all most be overcome to finish the stage. Any lasers will automatically be firing a deadly green beam. They can be deflected with a mirror if you have any, or turned with a wrench, but will light the fuse of any bomb they touch which will cause a chain-reaction if any other bombs are in close proximity. Torches will also light bombs and can defrost a frozen Dweep too. Fans will prevent him from passing but can be turned with the wrench, as can mirrors, and they can also blow Dweep along when he's been inflated by a Heat Plate. To deflate him, a water bucket is needed which can also extinguish a lit bomb or allow Dweep to pass a laser beam unscathed. Probably the least common item is the hammer which can destroy or alter pretty much all of these objects.

My very mature effort with the level editor...
All this stuff probably seems rather complicated but the controls are very simple (everything is done via the mouse) and it doesn't take too long to become familiar with all the items and features - by far the biggest challenge is working out how to actually overcome them. Most stages look fairly easy at first glance but it doesn't take long at all for them to become pretty tough. The first thing to realise is how stupid Dweep is. If you click a location for him to move to, he'll quite happily hop to it as directly as possible which includes through a laser beam or something if there's one nearby, so you need to be careful when moving him. Also, while some stages have multiple solutions, it's very easy to mess them up irreparably just by placing one item in the wrong place. Fortunately you can restart at any time as often as you want!

Plenty of mirrors here to bounce the lasers around...
So basically, you just have to think and plan a stage in advance, even if it looks easy. There are certainly enough of them to play through - an impressive 75, no less - and as if that wasn't enough there's even a level designer/editor! Most of them are well designed too, and will keep you plugging away until you find the solution you just know is staring you in the face. The only real criticism is the lack of variety, particularly with the aesthetics. The sprites and stages are nicely drawn but there are only a handful of different (and similar) colour schemes used, and the game cycles through five different tunes which range from annoying to quite pleasant. Still, it is a free game (nowadays) and should prove a real treat to puzzle fans. Be warned though - it doesn't work on Windows 7 machines so you'll need to have an old PC to play it!

RKS Score: 7/10