It's cold outside. No, really cold. So cold that the polar ice caps (which melted under a previous un-cold spell) are re-freezing and casting the entire world into a new ice age. Bizarre crystals begin to form across the globe, and they seem to be impervious to most things that get rid of ice. Like, you know, warm things.
Fortunately an elite team of combat-ready women have been assembled, each with a special ability that can chip away at the ice. In Iceblast you take control of Skye, Luna, and Sun and destroy ice crystals to restore the world to its happy warm-like state. Using a fun puzzle/strategy layout reminiscent of The Lost Vikings, you must find the most efficient way to clear each field of ice to earn points and upgrade the girls' abilities.
Commanding the fighters from behind your monitor, simply click a character's portrait to send her out on the field and attack any piece of ice you choose. Skye, Luna, and Sun excel at a different style attack. Luna is really tough and can destroy big chunks of ice in one hit. Skye is fast but can only attack one shard at a time for very little damage. Sun can summon mirages of herself to attack additional shards anywhere on the screen. After each attack, the character must rest to recharge her power before going out into the field again.
Iceblast gets really interesting when combo attacks come into play. When a shard of ice is destroyed, it deals damage to adjacent shards. If you chip away and plan your moves right, you can eliminate whole groups of crystals with a single move, scoring massive points for your team. Building combos is what Iceblast is all about.
Between levels you get the chance to visit a training dojo and item shop where you can spend credits to decrease resting time between attacks or to buy better weapons that can destroy bigger chunks of ice. Spend wisely, however, as what you invest in really makes a difference in later levels.
Analysis: An unassuming little game, Iceblast took me by surprise with its simple but engaging premise. Breaking ice with a team of superheroines? SRSLY?! But the puzzle/strategy mix is definitely a winner, and it encourages you to find the path of least resistance to clear each screen of shards. Do you go for big combo points, try and get multiplier bonuses, or just fly into a click frenzy and hope it all works out ok? As the game progresses, you have to get smarter and smarter about what you do, and it's a great experience.
On the flip-side of the frozen coin, Iceblast presents you with a pretty basic visual package that gives the game a dated look. From strange color schemes to awkward menus right down to the anime-inspired characters, it all screams "blah" and will likely turn some players away. If you can look past the presentation, however, you'll be delighted to find a game worth chipping into.
Despite its too-simple visual style and somewhat unintuitive assembly, Iceblast manages to pull things together and create a fun (and different!) casual puzzle/strategy game. There's even a limited Flash demo that will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of gameplay!