Although the Nintendo DS has already popularized a similarly innovative method for controlling and interacting with a video game, this next game offers a relatively fresh gameplay mechanic that may be somewhat familiar to DS owners.
From Japanese site Netkun comes Mamezo, an action arcade game in which the player bounces a yellow robot 'egg' around the play field while popping bubbles to score points and collect power-ups. Simply click and drag the mouse to draw a line with which to bounce the egg. As long as you hold the mouse button down the line will remain intact. Move the mouse to give the egg a 'lift' when it comes in contact with the line.
Scoring for bubbles popped in a single bounce begins at 100 points and increases by 100 for each additional bubble popped, up to a maximum of 800 points each. Every time the egg bounces off the hand-drawn line, bubbles are reset back to 100.
Sometimes fruit will appear in a bubble. Pop the bubbles that contain fruit to earn fruit markers along the bottom of the play field. I haven't yet figured out what bonus, if anything, they contribute to.
Enemies will begin to appear once you get the hang of things. Avoid hitting the floating skull with the egg, or you may lose a life. You will notice at random intervals the egg will have a green highlight around it. Hit the skull when the egg is green to destroy the skull and keep playing. However, a new skull will immediately appear to replace the one you hit. Daggers will also begin to drop and will cut the line you draw if it comes in contact. Double skulls and daggers keep the action perilous and challenging, triple skulls and daggers are insane.
Analysis: After playing many "me-too" casual games that offer nothing other than a new skin to old gameplay, it is refreshing when a game comes along that forces you to think differently. As I mentioned before, Mamezo is not the first game to offer such a gameplay mechanic as drawing lines to bounce an object around a play field. Nonetheless, it is a game that will provide a unique experience for many.
Once familiar with how to draw a line and bounce the egg around, I experienced a marvelous feeling of gratification destroying bubbles by the bundle. And just as I began to feel comfortable with the control, the game almost knowingly began attempts at thwarting my progress with skulls, and then daggers. And while the game has no explicit level structure, its level design exists within this fine balance between ease-of-use and challenge difficulty, and it is handled well.
The graphics are just ordinary, but time and time again we see that excellent graphics do not guarantee a fun game to play. Sound plays a significant role, though not a necessary one, in enhancing the experience with arcade-style effect. Heavy machine hydraulics add an interesting contrast to the satisfying sounds of popping bubble-wrap and the elastic twang of a mouth harp.
Thank you, Nathan, for suggesting the link. =)