Manuel Fallmann's latest offering on his MINDistortion site is a turn-based strategy game against the CPU, or a human opponent at the same computer. The object of Quarkz is to be the first player to reach the number of points designated as the victory condition by adding particles to the play field and setting off chain reactions.
Players take turns by adding a particle to any one of the squares of the play field by clicking on it. The square then turns to that player's color and the scores are updated accordingly. For example, if Blue clicks on a Red square with two (2) particles, the number of particles for that square becomes three (3) and the square turns Blue. Furthermore, two (2) points are deducted from Red's score since the square is no longer Red's, and three (3) points are added to Blue's.
Volatility comes into play when particles of a square reach an unstable state. The number of particles that make a square unstable depends on where the square is located:
- Corner squares are unstable at three (3) particles
- Border squares are unstable at five (5) particles
- All other squares are unstable at eight (8) particles
I have included an illustration in the images above that maps each of the types of squares to their threshold for becomming unstable. If the map is not visible at present, reloading the page will eventually display it.
Once a square reaches an unstable state, clicking on it will cause a chain reaction with all squares that border it by incrementing the particles and changing their color to the player's color who caused the chain reaction
To start a game against the CPU, choose "Human vs Computer" and accept the defaults for a moderately sized game of medium difficulty. At these settings, the victory condition is 60 points, meaning the first player to reach 60 points wins the game.
Analysis: The game is simple to play once familiar with the number of particles that cause each type of square to become unstable. Since chain reactions can quickly change the course of the game, the strategic element of the game becomes very important. Unfortunately, the AI for the CPU is quite weak and therefore I recommend playing on hard difficulty once familiar with the gameplay.
The soundtrack borrows tunes from some commercial techno offerings to complement the subatomic particle theme of the game. And while the animated player graphics can sometimes get in the way while taking a turn, this is a small complaint to an otherwise polished, very playable casual game.
From the same developer who created the wonderful and addictive Bubbles game, Quarkz is a fun little game for anyone who enjoys a bit of strategy with their Flash.