A new stylish title from Game Pure has just been released: Micro Art. The hybrid puzzle combines elements of SameGame and your classic match-3 game with a unique line-drawing mechanism that takes the heavy lifting off your cerebrum and shares the load with your reflexes. A pile of puzzle pieces rises on the left side of the screen while matching pieces float freely on the right. Draw a line and collect the floating pieces to make matches and keep the stack from reaching the top of the screen. The rules are a bit strange at first and the game takes some time to get used to, but once you learn the ropes you'll have a tough time tearing yourself away.
The screen is divided into two areas with the main action taking place on the right side. Gather groups of at least three pieces by clicking and dragging the mouse, almost like fishing. When you release the button, patterns of pieces on the left half of the screen (which will be shadowed) that match the pieces on your line will vanish, allowing the stack to fall and creating new groups to be eliminated.
A thin bar in the center of the screen slowly fills as you make matches. When it hits the top the music changes and a special "2nd art mode" is activated. During this time you can make matches using only two pieces, allowing you to make short work of the left-side stack. When the music hits its stride be sure you work as quickly as you can, as this can be the difference between a level-up or a game over!
As if the split screen puzzle action weren't unique enough, Micro Art includes a fun shop feature that tallies the pieces you've collected and lets you purchase items between sessions. Buy slower or faster pieces to customize your experience and make the game as intense as you can handle. All of your purchases and stats are saved between sessions, letting your quick coffee break rounds build into something more substantial.
Analysis: My first impression of Micro Art was one of confusion, frustration, and more confusion. I couldn't make sense of that rainbow-tinted line thing and its connection to the puzzle pieces on the left. Did someone leave out the instructions? After discussing the game with other JIG writers we managed to piece together a vague idea of how the game works. A few minutes later, I had it down to a science. And that's when the addiction began.
Once I knew how to play, Micro Art pulled me in like very few puzzle games have managed to do. The combination of quick-style rounds and active gameplay (as opposed to passive tile swapping) keeps you engaged at all times, and the shop system made me want to come back for more. The 2nd art mode keeps things lively, and not being penalized for losing keeps any sort of disappointment at bay. In short, Micro Art delivers one of the most completely enjoyable experiences of any puzzle game I've played. Ever.
Micro Art pulls your attention from the left to the right sides of the screen and forces you to think on your toes. The interesting fact is that the real matching game isn't in the gameplay, it's in matching what you collect on the right side with what exists on the left. In essence, the puzzle is in the game's design. And of course Game Pure infused Micro Art with an impeccable audio and visual presentation that screams "style" like few other games out there.
Micro Art is an extraordinarily addictive game that balances quick-style puzzle solving with a rewarding shop system to keep you coming back for more. Another excellent title from Game Pure!