Ring Pass Not 2
Do you remember 2007? If you're like me, your answer is probably, "What was I supposed to be doing this morning?" If you're more of a clever sort, however, your answer is going to be, "Of course I remember 2007, Dora. That was when indie developer Sandhill Games released a little gem called Ring Pass Not, which was a puzzle game which, while occasionally unfair in its luck-based gameplay, was addictive and unique and pretty darned awesome. But why do you ask? Surely it can't be... " But it is! After listening to the community and going over feedback, the developers have finally given us Ring Pass Not 2, featuring better bonuses, better looks, the all-important save feature (awww yeaaah) and much more.
Apparently, you, a wizard, or at least someone in possession of a wizard's staff, are journeying across the land, and the only way to prevent being eaten by dragons is to create rings of matching symbols and/or colours as you progress. You know, just like in real life? You do this by placing runes on the circular playing field. Runes can only be placed next to each other if the symbols or the colours of the ends that touch each other match. If you don't have anything suitable, you can click the Deal button, which you can do several times per game. When you click it, it grants you a new set of runes, but reduces the number you get by one each time. to If the board fills up and all of the adjacent runes don't match each other, you'll lose the game.
Fortunately, as a wizard, you have access to special power-ups that will be revealed as you go along. Place a certain coloured symbol beside another and unlock a helpful ability, or make use of the coveted Bonus Deal, which shuffles your available runes one more time even if you've already hit the Deal button. As you progress, the game gets even harder by introducing requirements for certain areas of the board that change with each stage. They'll limit you to placing only matching symbols on one spot, or a particular colour on another. Think you've got it all down to an art? Then try the game's even more restrictive additional difficulty mode the next time you play.
Analysis: Strictly speaking, Ring Pass Not 2 is not so much a sequel to the original, as an upgrade. The game is prettier, sounds better, and offers a handful of new abilities and bonuses which are really just there to beef up your score. Which isn't a bad thing, since the original Ring Pass Not was fun, just very basic. Ring Pass Not 2, by contrast, is as easy as you want it to be. You can still "win" by slapping down runes that meet the basic requirements, but to get the highest score you'll need to challenge yourself to place the best runes in specific positions so you trigger bonuses. It's an appealing approach to gameplay that leaves room for people who just want to have fun, and those of you who take the "mine's bigger" approach to the scoreboard to play your little hearts out.
My main gripe with an otherwise enjoyable game is one that endures from its predecessor. You can't have much real strategy in a scenario where Lady Luck dictates the outcome, especially since we all know what a fickle harridan she is. Carefully plotting rune placement does you no good if the game can decide to throw down three useless sets of runes in a row. You don't need strategy, you need a crystal ball. How much you'll enjoy Ring Pass Not 2 depends on how well you handle the Deal button frequently giving you useless runes when you've painted yourself into the corner. It's not all luck, of course, and a good bit of careful planning and saving your power-ups will go a long way, but it still stings.
Regardless of how many times chance knocks you down, there's something addictive about Ring Pass Not 2's simple-on-the-surface gameplay that will probably bring you crawling back. It's surprisingly adept at making you lose track of time, and "just one more round" is a trap any puzzle fan should be prepared to fall into. It's also just begging for an iPhone port. (hint, hint) As it stands, Ring Pass Not 2 puts on a good coat of polish and refines an old title into something bright, shiny, and altogether fun.
Cheers to Anji for sending this one in! =)