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The Caverns of Hammerfest


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Rating: 4.8/5 (104 votes)
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Hammerfest

PsychotronicThe Caverns of Hammerfest, by French developer Motion Twin, is an expertly crafted love letter to classic arcade platformers like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros. If you've ever wondered how the intensity and the heartbreak of those old arcade cabinets could be translated into online gaming, look no further. Do you remember what it was like to scream "NO!" at the screen when you lost one of your precious lives that you paid for with your very own 25 cent piece? Do you miss that feeling? Do you long for it?

HammerfestThen Hammerfest is your new best friend.

You are Igor, a plucky snowman whose carrot-nose has been stolen by an evil magician named Tuber, who has also enslaved an entire race of intelligent, "super-vitiminized" (the translation is a bit strange in places) fruit. To regain your precious nose and free the fruit-people, you must battle your way through over 100 levels of pitch-perfect platforming action, collecting a massive variety of items and rediscovering just how bad you are at video games.

Control Igor with the arrow keys and space bar. [Up] jumps and [space] lays bombs. Dropping a bomb while Igor is in the air will give him an extra boost that can help him clear gaps or reach slightly higher platforms.

Each level features an assortment of bewitched fruit monsters who you must destroy in order to move on. Igor fights indirectly, mostly by dropping his standard ice bomb in a place where it will catch an enemy in its explosion. The blast will encase the baddie in ice, sending it sliding across the floor, taking out any other enemies it collides with on the way. Your goal is to send it over the edge of a platform and off the bottom of the screen.

Some levels feature colored energy gates that will grant you different types of weaponry, like a proximity bomb that explodes on contact or a spring bomb that propels you high into the air.

The conscientious and thorough training level will explain all this and more, so I highly advise playing through it before you tackle the adventure proper, if only to familiarise yourself with the controls before you have to deal with time limits and killer fruit.

HammerfestDisclaimer: You have to pay in order to get the most out of this game. A 5-Euro investment (about $7.50 USD) will get you an immediate 25 credits and another 4 credits every week for the rest of your life, and you can get more games any time you feel like paying for them. Although you can get 5 free credits once every 24 hours by resetting your account, this erases your progress completely. You will be working with extremely few extra lives, and you will never encounter any of the more powerful and interesting items.

Even the free version is a stellar game, with tight controls, engaging animation, and challenging gameplay. But the item quest system is what transforms Hammerfest from an excellent nostalgia trip into something diabolically addicting.

You see, there are hundreds of different items in Hammerfest, from mundane snack foods to exotic things like totem poles and rainbows. Some items simply increase your score, some give you temporary superpowers, some call down surreal 3-eyed star-gods to pulverize your enemies. One rare item even gives you a beard. And every weird, silly, boring, or surreal thing you collect goes into your Fridge, where you can show it off to your friends and rivals.

HammerfestMeanwhile, when you collect certain combinations of objects, you complete one of a long list of quests, all of which change the overall game in some way. For instance, tracking down 5 telephones will give you a 25% bonus when you buy additional credits (I recommend you complete this quest before shelling out your first 5 euros). Most quests will merely unlock a new group of higher-scoring treats, but some will grant you an extra life at the beginning of each game, or even give you permanent power-ups.

In this way, Hammerfest evolves and expands over time. Even though the levels themselves are identical from game to game, the range of events gets wider as the list of available items grows. It doesn't exactly feel like a new game every time you play, but when the last rare item you need to complete a quest appears, strange things can happen to your brain. When you find yourself hurling Igor into certain death just so you can collect, say, a hamburger, you'll know you're hooked.

HammerfestAnalysis: Motion Twin pretty much nails every aspect of this game. Hammerfest would have been a hit on par with Bubble Bobble back in the day, and if you've ever played Bubble Bobble, you know what a compliment that is.

The gameplay itself has a surprising amount of depth, once you start learning what the various items do and setting up combo attacks. Each level is distinct and entertaining, with just the right mix of puzzle elements and all-out action. Igor handles like a sure-footed dream, and enemies telegraph their attacks with comical facial expressions, so you have no one to blame but yourself when you die.

The animation is packed with details. None of the fruit creatures have legs, so they all jump, spin, and roll depending on their mood. A furious, hopping, homicidal strawberry is really a sight to behold.

The only problem with Hammerfest — and this won't be a problem for everyone — is the continue system. There isn't one. You have to start back at level one every time you play, and with over 100 levels, that can be a little frustrating. But the upside is that the quest system will keep updating the game as you hone your skills, so the trip down through the caverns never plays out quite the same way twice. And when your lives are genuinely limited, getting to a new level feels like a real achievement. You can't bully your way through this game, no matter how much money you blow on it. You have to be good, or get good, and it feels fantastic when you cross that threshold.

I can't recommend this game highly enough.

Enter The Caverns of Hammerfest

Note: Hammerfest is made for a French-speaking audience, so the English version of the site is somewhat under-served. The French and Spanish sites have a full set of expansion levels and a number of other perks, such as names for each item in the game, and it's anyone's guess when or whether those features will be updated on the English server. So if you speak French or Spanish, or if you absolutely have to have the complete Hammerfest experience, sign up on one of those servers. The English version is still 100% playable, mind you. It's just missing some content.

Update: MotionTwin recently changed things so you now receive 1 free game per day but they do not stack. They also removed the buy X games get X per week for newer members.

62 Comments

Note: This game also has a good bit of sneaky secrets, including a way to start at level 10 ;) (although to be honest, it may be better for your score to start at level 1)

How to skip to level 10

is something I won't tell you!

Oh and this game is awesome, I can't wait till Monday night when I get mah 4 more games :3

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Hammerfest? The very most northern city of my country? http://www.hammerfest-turist.no/index.php?page_id=35

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When the game first begins, lay a bomb on the right side against the rock wall to skip that level. :)

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That was quite fun, and it really did remind me of Bubble Bobble - mostly because of the level design and the falling crystals! Very entertaining, I might end up getting some tokens, it looks like it may be worth it. One complaint is there are no descriptions of the quests: what you get from them, or even some sort of story would be kinda neat ;)

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I live in Hammerfest! XD

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What an odd comment about Europeans! At least people in Hammerfest, like all of us Scandinavians, mostly can speak English better than Spanish or French.

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For those who live in Hammerfest:

If you see that well, jump, and tell me what was in that well.

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Hmm. Not very into paying for games, and the free tutorial didn't do much for me.

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Great game, but the lack of a Continue system is annoying, at least.

Ok, now this is a BIG spoiler about the game:

Have you tried to blow up the bucket at the first level?

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Paying for games like this is unfair to the player. This is more like gambling than a real video game experience. You are basically betting that the code will decide to give you that extra life when you need it, or decide to allow you that last item needed to complete your "quest", in a timely AND safe manner. It's intelligent programming on their part to tempt you for the items, if it was truly skill based, opposed to luck based, then that's different. Throwing a paying customer into certain death for an flashing item, that is about to disappear, and tempting people with frequent, intentional, dangerous placement of items is immoral.

I love your site, Jay, I visit more than once a day, daily. I understand the site needs revenue, but this one really got to me... Keep up the good work, though!

Your fan,
Rod R.

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Rod - Thanks for your feedback.

We do not benefit in any way from purchases of Hammerfest games. Moreover, we are not connected to MotionTwin, nor are they sponsoring us in any capacity.

We reviewed this game because—like all games on JIG—we sincerely feel it represents one of the best gameplay experiences available on the Web today.

That being said, 5 Euros is hardly a lot of money to pay, and a lifetime subscription of free games each week makes it an even better value.

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Rod: I don't really think you're being fair to the designers. I mean like Jay and the reviewer point out, paying customers get free games every week for the rest of their life. In other words, you only HAVE to pay once.

And besides, I would argue the game IS skill based. A skillful player won't jump off a cliff just to grab an item, so I don't see how the item placement is immoral. And rarely did I notice the items end up in an impossible place anyway. Usually if I was careful and quick enough I could get to it.

And I would argue that a skilled player will easily make it further than a non skilled player. I got further each time I played. Either I got luckier each time (possible I guess) or I started to learn how to play better and gained skill. I know which I'm going with.

DLand: I'd just like to say that from what I've played of the actual game there is a bit more to it than in the Tutorial. Don't get me wrong, it continues to be an arcade experience, but the quests and secrets give it a lair of depth that goes beyond most arcade games.

If you're holding off on paying because you don't like the game that's fair, but if you're holding off on the principle that you don't like paying for games...well I think that kind of sucks. Game designers deserve to be paid for their hard work, and I personally think it's really important that people support small independent games like this.

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BuenoCabra Author Profile Page December 31, 2007 6:15 PM

Hey, Jay! Shouldn't you give us your username for the game so we can list you as our referral? Or maybe Psychotronic should give us his?

If there's a reward program for referrals in a paid game, somebody should definitely get credit for introducing us to it, especially if it's this good!

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Hi, BuenoCabra!

Psychotronic should get some love for writing such a great review:

http://www.hfest.net/?ref=Psychotronic

Of course, I have an account under Jayisgames, and Harukio has one under his name, too. :)

But give first preference to Psychotronic, please. :D

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To credit Psychotronic, just type Psychotronic or visit:

http://www.hfest.net/?ref=Psychotronic

To credit Jay, just type Jayisgames or visit:

http://www.hfest.net/?ref=Jayisgames

To credit me (:P), type Harukio or visit:

http://www.hfest.net/?ref=Harukio

(yeah I couldn't help myself) xD

[edit: Jay beat me to the chase, and ditto, if you're going to credit anyone please credit Psychotronic :). Now I'm off to play some more Hammerfest!]

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Rod, I really don't understand your point of view. Finding a gaming concept "immoral" just because it forces you to make a risky but potentially rewarding choice is pretty strange - for me, a game without challenges, risks and/or difficult choices is merely an interactive experience, a web toy with no lasting entertainment value whatsoever. Also, a pay-to-play principle is totally ok in my opinion, as long as the price is fair and the quality of the game warrants the money spent for it. In fact, I find that if you know your tries are limited, it makes the gaming experience a bit more involving and exciting.

Anyway, I guess you have never visited arcades much back in the days. Those thing gobbled up your pocket money like there was no tomorrow and were often UTTERLY unfair (anybody remember Metal Slug 3)? Yet I enjoyed playing those games far more then almost any of todays offerings. When you lost a life in those games, it HURT, but damn it was satisfying to beat one more level, and there was no better reward then the joy of entering your initials on the high score list...

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This is an excellent game, but I confess I don't like the attitude of the developers.

One of them posted on the forums that the item names would never be translated into English because "it wasn't worth it". Presumably this means "it's making money now so why bother?"

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What I didn't like is that the developers are still deciding whether to put additional content on the english server at all.

Not very nice, considering the multitude of (then obviously false) "available soon" banners on the main login page.

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Psychotronic: thanks for the excellent review! It's always refreshing to read an article that was written with passion. :) After giving the demo a try, I was impressed even further, so I registered, mentioning Harukio as a referer. ;)

Coming back with fresh impressions about the actual gameplay, I suggest that you guys explain the 'free play' aspect a bit in the review. From the way it stands now, I got the impression that free play is a toned-down, but still viable alternative to the commercial version - kinda like Runescape.

But it isn't so. As you noted, after a brief trial the only way to progress with the free game is to reset your account. This not only completely erases your progress, but also imposes a waiting period of 24 hours before you can play the game again. With these restrictions and the meager lives, it's simply impossible to make a meaningful progress in this game without paying, hence making the free-play more like a demo.

To be fair to prospective gamers, it would be nice to include this info in the review, along with perhaps the "demo" tag in the article.

Gameplay-wise it's awesome, but with so many good-quality free flash games around, I'll just play something else. :)

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Thanks. :)

Best luck getting the Hall of Fame - I see that you're nearly there! ;)

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SiamJai, yes, reseting is a lousy option - the 24 hour delay is unnecessary and stupid. It's far more easier to create an army of "multis" and play all you want, since thankfully the account creation is lightning quick. It does not even ask for e-mail confirmation so you can be sneaky and put in a fake email address and play away. Usually I would be against this sort of behaviour, but here I endorse it since I hope the surge of new accounts would make the french developers come around and put in the new content. Hell, as far as I'm concerned they can even leave it in french, like I really do care for the story in an arcade game much.

Personally, I really like the game and weirdly enough the fact that you must pay for it makes it even more attractive. I bought some more games and I'm enjoying it, even though the developers themselves seem to be pretty lazy and unnecessarily rude to their non-french paying playerbase. What can I say, I'm a sucker for arcades... :)

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SiamJai, I can't agree with you that this game is a demo if you don't pay for it.

The snowflake in the game gives 5 more games and i have found it after every reset. with these games the 10 candles can be found which makes the last levels possible. (although the completely dark levels can be cleared without them, it is very hard.)

The only thing that really matters is skill and with a lot of it, someone could reach the Hall of Fame with playing only 4 games.
Playing the game in pinball-fashion, starting from nothing and seeing how far you can go is really fun.
And at least one individual has reached the Hall of Fame without paying, instead he/she has reseted his/her account quite a few times. (This can be seen from the archive of comments from the Hall of Famers)

Someone might have guessed that I'm not able to pay for this game.

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Thanks for pointing that out, LASD. I went to the forum and I've looked up a free hall-of-famer called Axilias, and some of his posts are quite interesting.

It turns out that he accidentally hit the "obtain free five games" button which turned out to be the reset, and he got frustrated when when his progress got erased too. Then in another post he said he's been trying to reach the hall of fame for five months straight with the reset technique, and he got up to level 2.

Now, that determination is admirable, but for the casual gamers that this site mainly gathers to, the free play of Hammerfest is as good as a demo. :)

Thanks for the tip about the snowflakes though. I may give the game another try sometime when I need something new.

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OK, I'm still rooting FOR this game even though I still cannot understand the severe anglophobia the french developers seem afflicted with.

Anyways, here are a few hints for this game so you can get the most out of it. But before that, I want to point out one thing - once you get good enough, 5 games (or 10 if you make two accounts) per day are really more then enough. The only REAL reason to pay for the game is if you want to enrich your gameplay experience with additional items and easier access to more points, otherwise the free play is pretty solid - a little practice is all it takes. So to reiterate - free play is NOT a demo, but you need some experience before you stop hemmoraging those game tokens, so be prepared to create a few "dummy" accounts for your first few tries.

OK, here go the hints:

1. Don't blow the bucket. It warps you to level 10, but you really don't want this unless you are in a rush to finish the game, which you probably aren't.

2. Upon entering the level, wait a little. 2 items will show up - the first one can often give you a random bonus and the second one usually only give you points. Additionally, crystal balls with letters C-R-I-S-T-A-L will randomly appear. You shouldn't rush for those because they will keep appearing as long as there are enemies on the screen, but you SHOULD try to collect them all, not because they kill all the enemies on the screen, but because they give you one extra life. Also, the number of different letters that show up in a level depends on the number of enemies you chain-killed on the previous level. So, if you didn't chain any kills on the previous level you will only be seeing one of the letters in the current level, and there is no point in waiting for more.

3. The big crystals aren't random - they are triggered when you kill the enemies in certain order (usually it's the least convenient order). For instance, on level 3 you should first kill the cherry and then the orange above. On level 4 you should first kill the upper orange, then the lower. Search the forums for the exact kill order for the first 20 levels.

4. What you really NEED to collect in your first few games: Hearts give you one additional life in current game, as well as one in every following game you start. There are three hearts (red, golden, icy) but you will most likely be seeing only the red one if you keep resetting your account. Snowflake gives you 5 additional GAMES and you should definitely grab this one if you see it. You get one extra life each time you finish the word CRISTAL (which is quite doable if you try to chain your kills as often as you can), and one when you reach 100,000 points, a score not really that hard to achieve. Finally, telephones give you a discount so you should grab those if you considering paying for more games.

There. Give this game a chance, you won't regret it. The gameplay is richer then it initially appears especially if 95% of your experience with the game was the dreadfully boring "learning" level which should most probably be skipped (or better yet, nuked from orbit).

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Oh, and if it weren't obvious:

- your own bombs cannot kill you
- frozen enemies cannot kill you nor will they push you when they slide all over
- unconscious enemies cannot kill you
- hitting an enemy with your head (when he is on the platform above you) doesn't kill you

Use this for your advantage.

On the other news, the english server seems to have more players now then the french server. Go Jay Is Marketing!

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Argh, I wish this game had a mute button so I could listen to my nice music because after the 50th+ game, you start to get tired of the music (not to mention that when it speeds up it makes me nervous).

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But it does. It has a nice big "M" on it, and it is situated on your keyboard. You can also turn it off completely on the options menu.

Gee, you never read those french hints the game gives you when you press the "pause" button, dont'cha? :)

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I'm taking Spanish!!!

But gracias for your help.

Oh and will I ever even SEE the 5th box of chocolates that I need?! (Though I did get the ultra rare, 100K point candy cane on level 4 of all places, which really stresses the importance of not skipping the early levels xD)

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This is nervewrecking...

I've been the first in the top pyramid level for the last week (that "damir" dude, yep, that's me :) ) and now only 24 hours remain. However I guess the top players all wait for Monday night to make their insanely big scores...

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Psychotronic,

for those high levels (80+) I find it invaluable to check out the next level's screenshot on astham's site before plunging into it and plan out my strategy. Oh, and the "P" button is often my best friend.

Also, 12 more hours and perhaps I can then focus on beating the game, too. :)

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I'm in a Hall of Fame, yay me. Actually, it was far easier then expected, seems that on english server noone puts much of a fight. Everyone should go get it while they can, because 7 free games a week is sort of a nice deal - at my current rate of 1 game per day, it will last me, well, forever (especially seems I'm already getting 4 games from the 5€ I sunk). Too bad you cannot give the games away as gifts...

P.S. Psychotronic, there is a knack to level 84 - use a bomb jump just as you pass through the first teleporter. This puts you in the black bomb area right away and makes the rest of the level a bit easier.

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And.. I beat the game.

I got a bit lucky in the end (one green and one red umbrella in the 90's) which kinda helped. The final boss fight is cool and not really that hard. Small hint - you have to be patient and take it slow - it is not readily apparent but there is in fact no time limit for killing that pesky Tuber.

As for the ending sequence, it's pretty funny and a little bit stomach-turning. I know it's just fruit but still. :)

Now if only the Parallel Dimensions would finally arrive...

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Addendum:

All the good comments I made before aside, I would suggest rethinking twice before shelling out more money for this game as it currently stands now.

The english version is probably never going to get updated (for some obscure reasons known only to Motion Twin developers who diligently erase or lock every topic dealing with "when will we get updates" discussion) but that's not the biggest issue. Recently the site(s) seem to be having major technical difficulties which take more and more time to resolve (currently they are down for 48 hours and counting) - an issue which seems to affect only Hammerfest and not the other MT games.

The game DOES offer stellar gameplay and everything, but until MT sorts out its priorities and/or whatever difficulties they are facing, I suggest keeping your money in your pocket.

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Fi-Chan March 6, 2008 4:46 AM

Holy Crap! There's a pause button? ... Well don't I feel like an idiot.

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Good news: there's an update on the english server!

Bad news: this update wholely consist of a new forum announcement which basically says there won't be any updates on the english server. Like, ever.

Hope you didn't give too much money to MT already...

:)

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I love this game and I play it every day. The only problem, I can't get past level 45. I did it once and now i don't know how. Any help on it? I wait for something useful to appear,like a star or a ball, but nothing appears ever and I can't throw a bomb that high.

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Yes, you can. Just try to jump from the exact edge and don't rush with the bomb placing.

Actually, just check out the video on the bottom of this page.

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ToastSpread May 27, 2008 7:52 PM

I've been playing this game for free for a long time now, and I had no idea there were french and spanish sites with more information! I can speak and read both! This is a big help to me so thanks for the links!

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I can only get the money version if I do something _~_ and i can't tell what. gah.

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Cerulean Author Profile Page July 13, 2008 8:56 AM

Is anyone else experiencing control problems with Firefox 3 and Hammerfest? Occasionally Igor will suddenly decide that no matter what keys I am or am not pressing, he's going to keep going right for a while, and then left for a while (usually dying once or twice as a result). At first I thought I had damaged my keyboard with too much Dino Run and now my keys were sticking, but I'm not noticing this problem with anything else but Hammerfest.

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I'm still trying to find a way to continue playing this game. Explorer grinds down to about 10 FPS when there's too much stuff on the screen. Google Chrome frequently freezes for up to 5 seconds at a time. And Firefox, while performing adequately, overflows and creates the false input I mentioned. It's like trying to play while an invisible toddler watches and mashes on my keyboard to ruin my game when I least expect it.

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when i reset my account it now starts with only one game.previously it started with 5 games.please tell me how it works

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They changed it without announcing.

Unless you pay, it now gives one free game per day (not cumulative), with certain quests/cash giving 'anytime' games.

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who knows whats happend to the game?

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The Parallel Dimensions is on the English server now. I bought some tokens back when this game was first reviewed and never used them. Logged back in a few days ago (after perusing the "Best of" section of this site) and found I had over 200 credits, so I've gone back to playing again. I'm down to 192 credits, which ought to last me a while.
The warp bubbles really confuse me though. Granted, I haven't gotten really far into the game, so I don't really know how everything works. Pretty fun though. I'm glad I came back through and read previous replies - I didn't know how the large crystals appeared, so that's good to know.

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I have over 500 credits.. and I never bought a single game.

The spot in the Hall of Fame comes in handy, and it was damn easy to get it eight months ago since all the good players left the game due to the "no updates" announcement... :)

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I've been thinking about buying some lives, but I'm not sure whether it gives me 5 lives all at once, or 5 lives per day. Can someone clear that up?

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Trevor:

You buy games all at once, and then if you've bought a certain number of games total (thus filling a "panel"), you'll qualify to receive an additional number of games every Monday for life.

Unless they've changed the pricing, 5 Euros (or equivalent) gets you 25 games immediately, and 4 more games per week thereafter. Those games are cumulative--they'll stay in your account for whenever you want to use them.

When you sign up for your free account, you get 5 games immediately, and 1 game per day after that. But that 1 game per day isn't cumulative--it goes away if you don't use it.

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I already know most of that stuff... but I don't really understand the thing about the panel. Thanks, though.

(P.S. How many games total to "fill a panel"? How many games every Monday?)

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It should tell you clearly on the shop page. Mine says "Bought games: 31 | Next panel: 75 games. Buy 44 more games to unblock 5 free games per week forever." Are you having trouble finding the shop page? It's the icon on the left with the snowflake and the plus sign.

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I know how and where to buy games... I just haven't bought any yet. And it doesn't say anything about how many to buy to get extra lives forever. Do I have to buy a game for this to show up?

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Bob or whatever April 22, 2009 7:49 PM

here are a couple secrets

if you climb to the top of the level BEFORE going in the well and jump on that platform to the left at the top and go back to that middle one you get a coin

bomb the bucket in the well to skip to level 10

on one of the levels that are near 10 (cant remember exactly but i skipped and found it) sometimes a portal will appear and if you kill the enemies and then go through you go to a weird world that is much harder than the regular one

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catsfanj May 12, 2009 2:03 AM

Woo hoo!! Just got #6 on high scores! :P

Go the the left of the bucket to enter a secret tunnel.

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I haven't had the chance to play this yet, but your excellent review has had me whistling the bubble bobble song for the last twenty minutes.

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ZOMG! GUEST! August 31, 2009 6:01 PM

I just discovered a huge secret!

Hint:

It's in the training level where you see the spikes

What it is:

In that room, on the ledge before you drop down, use a red bomb, and when it stops spinning, jump and fly to the top of the screen, you will eventually come to a secret area, and then another

I can't seem to get out of the secret room tough. Great update too!

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I know I'm addicted, unfortunately severe anglophobia amongst the French is not at all uncommon, mostly due to an arrogance about their culture. It really is not unlike many English speaking Americans phobia of different cultures. It is a great game, it's too bad the English server is neglected. I think one of the keys is not so much more users as more paying users.

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with reference to the secret area mentioned above

the final level is impassable, once the pears are destroyed there is nothing else to do.

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Aha, I realized this is how I got into My Brute in the first place. *shakes fist at JiG*

Anyway, hopefully this game will earn a Twinoid tag should they integrate it back in. It looks hopeful, as they did make a dedicated forum. So updates will likely end up here

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