Disk Field


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Rating: 3.8/5 (80 votes)
| Comments (16) | Views (4)

GrimmrookDisk FieldIn honor of the bare bones presentation of J. Appleyard's new physics puzzle ("phyzzle"?) Disk Field, this review will eschew the typical literary aesthetics you may have grown used to here. No, you won't find any metaphors or outlandish similes here. Nor should you expect to see any form of puns, gags, running jokes, irony, hyperbole, and most definitely no impromptu song lyrics. I don't do song lyrics.

What you can expect from Disk Field is a simple yet engrossing action puzzler that works wonders with a fairly basic concept. Your goal is to guide your black and white disk into the red hole. Unlike most games of this nature, though, you do not control the disk nor do you control any form of device that can be used to hit or otherwise propel the disk. Instead, you control the actual field of play.

Specifically, you control the direction of the many arrows that dot the field. Whichever way the arrows point, so goes the disk. Simply rotate the arrows clockwise using the [right] arrow key, and counter-clockwise using the [left] arrow key.

As you progress, you will find a number of obstacles both subtle and obvious keeping you from your goal. You will contend with black holes that teleport you to white holes elsewhere on the map, moving platforms that can shove your disk any which way, blue arrows that defy your attempts to control them, and much more.

Analysis: No, Disk Field is not a pretty game, but we've been around long enough to know that flashy graphics don't always translate into a pleasurable gaming experience. Throw in as many lens flares and particle effects as you want into an action sequence and it doesn't amount to much if it's still not much fun.

Disk FieldLuckily, the sacrifices made on the visual front are more than compensated for with the gameplay. It's a fairly innovative idea, to control the very nature of each level in a comprehensive and dynamic manner, and is executed here quite nicely.

With no shortage of grace and ingenuity, Appleyard uses the basic mechanic of Disk Field to create a series of levels that will test both your mind and your dexterity. At once you must envision the board as a whole to plot your course through the labyrinth as well as employ deft reflexes to negotiate some of the trickier paths. Disk Field's clever approach to level design supports primary obstacles with minor variations in topography for maximum effect.

Interestingly enough, while Disk Field looks at first to be void of frill and flare, there is a kind of subtle beauty at work here. The way the contour of the playing board twists and undulates at the command of your fingertips is smooth and entrancing. Your eye begins to see a topographical grace in each level, picking out the divots and hills as you coax your disk from one end to the other. No, there may not be any snazzy visual effects, but don't let that fool you into thinking there isn't a sort of visual direction to be appreciated.

Disk Field doesn't explode onto the scene with clamorous bravado. Instead it arrives with subtlety, dignity, and contradictions that seem to work. It is plain, but not without beauty. It's a thinking game, but one that requires you to be nimble of finger. And like all good casual games, it's a quick play that can have you coming back over and over again for "One more try."

Play Disk Field

16 Comments

-=Mark=- July 29, 2009 1:51 PM

Fun for a few minutes, but not fun enough to keep playing after the first couple of hard levels (stopped at level 10).

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Hey, a video game about vector fields!

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I like this! It's a slick presentation of a difficult concept.

The difficulty curve seems inconsistent (I gave up on a level that involved "platforming", its arrows didn't turn like the others, and my brain exploded) but I rated it 5/5 anyway.

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Level 20 = Beastly. But the challenge is what made it so fun.

Also, the music makes me want to go home and play some Megaman 9.

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MY EYES!!!!

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Like one of those optical illusions that you can still see when you turn your head away, my vision has seemed to be permanently fixed with a fine shade of yellow.

Anyway, like the reviewer said, the intrinsic feel of the entire playing field shifting under the arrow keys is completely satisfying in itself even if there wasn't a game attached to it. I enjoyed what I played and as I learned the subtle techniques to beating levels I found the gameplay even more rewarding.

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I gave up at level 9, but trying to quit in the middle of a game crashed my browser (Firefox 3.5). :/

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@Kevin Reid, I was thinking the same thing.

Anyone else having issues seeing the whole playing field? I can see it fine on the developer's site, but it gets cut off on JiG.

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Hey Stu, can you post a screenshot?

I just checked the dimensions of the SWF, and it's 600x490, and I double checked the embed code and that's set accordingly.

The entire game is displaying fine for me. I'd like to see what you're seeing, if I could please.

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Nice idea, which would appeal to anyone who ever studied electromagnetism, but not very rewarding, and random at times. Waiting for a perfect Disk Field 2.

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Nevermind, issue was on my end--I must have accidentally zoomed out one day and not realized it. Looks great now!

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Not phyzzle, PHUZZLE!

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master_flea Author Profile Page July 31, 2009 4:03 AM

Level 16 burns my eyes. I can get to the top middle, but can't get the last bit of the way.

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I have the same problem at level 16. Anyone could help? It's just so near the end of the levels...

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The easiest way to beat the top part of level 16:

You need to travel from the pit on the right to the pit on the left, not via the safe area in the upper middle of the screen. I found it most helpful to wait on the far right of the first pit, wait for both of the moving bars to be in sync, and then gun it across to the second pit. From there, it's easy to get up to the far left portion of the screen. Took me FOREVER to figure this level out. Sheesh.

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I can't see the whole screen either, just the top left. For me it seems to be a flash/firefox problem though (mac osx, firefox 3.5). When I tried it in Safari it works as it should.

Screenshot

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