We've all played that game. You know, the one with the wooden blocks stacked up like a tower that has the uncanny ability to turn the most reserved of adults into a group of six year olds on a sugar rush while you nervously load test each and every single block as you try and remove it without sending the whole tottering structure collapsing with a magnificent crash.
Yeah, that game.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Gabriel Ochsenhofer, the very same who brought you Armor Picross 2, you can savor the very best of the classic party game without all the annoying side effects. Side effects like spending half an hour just stacking the tower in the first place, or chasing down that last wayward piece after a particularly good crash, or, my least favorite, having to endure your brother in law jumping around the room screaming, "IN YO FACE!" for a minimum of twenty minutes.
Totem Destroyer is, to say the least, an ironic name for this little jewel of a puzzler, considering that the very last thing you want to do is destroy the totem. The goal of each level is to instead retrieve the tiny golden little idol unharmed. Doing so is easier said than done, however. Keeping you from your prize is the precariously stacked structure upon which its perched. Your goal is to selectively destroy the required number of blocks for each stage without letting the totem touch the ground.
You will find in your hunt for priceless totems black blocks which can't be destroyed, normal brown blocks which can be destroyed, and green blocks which are equally destructable, but throw some added challenge into the mix with their bounciness. Whips, Fedoras, and the ability to outrun giant boulders won't be needed on this expedition, just your wits and a little luck.
Analysis: There's very little to find wrong with this game. The physics upon which it is balanced (heh) are incredibly well done. I did eventually find it unusual that the longer blocks landed so easily standing up, but even this little hiccup is one that I didn't notice until after level twenty. Beyond that, the physics really make the game; providing a natural feeling reaction to your every move that is predictable enough to plot your moves yet provides just enough randomness to keep you second guessing. Also, the dead time between when you can destroy blocks at first feels like a game flaw until you realize that it forces you to slow down and find a logical way to reach your goal as opposed to just clicking like mad and hoping the totem lands on one of the indestructable black blocks.
One criticism is the fact that successfully completing a level is determined by destroying a requisite number of blocks. For many levels this works fine, but for many this puts you in a situation where the totem is safe and low and you are just gratuitously clicking blocks that are out of play. Further, once you've reached the goal, you aren't allowed to destroy any more blocks, which sometimes puts you in a situation where if you could just destroy one more your totem is safe, but instead you have to watch as it slides down to the deadly grass below while you remain helpless to do anything about it. An alternative possibility might be to have a line below which you could bring the totem so that you could "reach" it.
The other quibble I have with the game is that it's just too short. At 25 levels, you should be able to work your way through in a relatively brief amount of time, and while we are promised at the end that more is to come, by the time the game is over you're going to be wanting some more NOW! And indeed, this game screams for a level editor option where players can build their own devious towers for others to try and deconstruct safely.
But these are minor annoyances and won't take away from the game's inherent charm and seemingly infinite possibilities. Thanks to the underlying physics, there are numerous logical solutions to each puzzle, as well as a few that can be reached through some good old fashioned luck. And when you're done, you don't even have to hunt down all the blocks so you can put them away in your closet.