Puzzles and tiles are like chocolate and ice cream. There's seemingly no end of ways to combine the two, and the results are frequently tasty. Honeycomb Beat is two puzzlers in one, and while it won't be kicking Tetris Attack from its lofty throne, it's still a good, clever, and somewhat addicting little title.
Honeycomb Beat is divided into two parts, one of which is a Tetris-style game where rows of tiles need to be cleared before they rise to the top of the screen, and another, without any time constraints, where all the tiles need to be flipped to the same color. The basics of both are exactly the same, though, despite the different goals.
There's a lot to like in Honeycomb Beat, and even when it starts getting more hard than fun, the reward system can keep you playing.
The tiles in Honeycomb Beat are hexagons, and touching one with the stylus flips it and all the neighboring tiles over while changing reversing their color. All the tiles in the puzzle levels have to be turned the same color to complete, and figuring the interactions of up to seven tiles at a touch can be hard to keep track of in the beginning. Thankfully the first 60 puzzles can be thought of as tutorial, leaving 140 more ranging from mildly tricky to "brain explode out the back of the skull" hard.
Each puzzle needs to be solved in a certain number of moves to be completed perfectly, but there's a 10 move buffer in place as well. A 6-move puzzle, for example, will still count as completed if done in 12, but its marker on the level grid won't fully change color. Eventually, the level-select grid will become a patchwork of white (incomplete), light blue (adequately completed), and dark blue (perfect!) tiles as more elements to the basic gameplay are introduced and the puzzles get harder.
In addition to the normal touch and flip tiles, new pieces get added in as things progress. A hexagon with a number inside must be flipped however many times it says in order to clear it, in addition to ending up the right color. Arrow tiles will flip every piece in a line, instead of the surrounding ones. Later on one arrow can point to another, meaning that when the first arrow flips the second one it will rotate on the axis, ending up pointing a different way. On top of that, there's a tray beside the puzzle that holds arrow pieces, and in order to clear the puzzle within its move limit they'll all need to be used. Figuring out where on the board they go, and if they need to be placed in the path of another arrow's effect or not, can be politely referred to as challenging. It's at this point, for me Honeycomb Beat switched from Fun to Work.
The other half of Honeycomb Beat is the Tetris-style mode, Evolution. Despite the pressure of time, it's actually the easier mode, because a few basic tactics will clear single lines at great speed. It won't do your ranking any good, but knocking the pile down to size can be pretty straightforward, at least for the first few levels. Each level in Evolution has a number of lines to clear in order to beat, and ranking is determined by score. Just clearing one line at a time will rank in at Mitochondria, but clearing multiple lines at once kicks in the multipliers and sends the final rank shooting up the evolutionary chain. Two lines at once is pretty common, and three is possible with practice, but using a diagonal arrow tile to take out eight lines in a go requires a better understanding of the cause and effect of tile flipping than most people will be willing to invest. It's bound to be pretty spectacular if it ever happens outside the tutorial, though.
There's a lot to like in Honeycomb Beat, and even when it starts getting more hard than fun, the reward system can keep you playing. New music, visualizers that play on the top screen to the music, and backgrounds unlock at a regular pace, while the level structure is such that if one puzzle is proving impossible there are another ten to choose from. Getting a perfect ranking on every puzzle may require a doctorate in Tileology, but there's always a path open to advancement. Honeycomb Beat offers a lot of content within its deceptively simple rule set, and those loving brain-busting puzzles will find plenty to keep them busy.
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