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Rating: 4/5 (125 votes)
Comments (26) | Views (5,529)

PsychotronicGrid16Ubiquitous developer jmtb02 (John Cooney, now a developer for Armor Games) has added another prize race horse to his growing stable of ultra-fast-paced minigame collections. While his Four Second series (so far including Fury, Frenzy, and Firestorm) stuck pretty closely to the formula established by Nintendo's Wario Ware, this new game feels like its own entity, with a unified visual style and a strong sense of purpose. Grid16 is nothing less than an exploration of our primal gamer instincts, and although it isn't a complete triumph, it's a giant step in an intriguing direction.

Your goal in Grid16 is simply to stay alive as long as possible. You start out with 16 live mini-games, each recognizable as a video game archetype. Every few seconds, the current mini-game will pause, retreat into the background, and be replaced by another game at random. Your control method is always the arrow keys, but they act differently from game to game. Your objective changes constantly as well, but it almost always boils down to either touching something or avoiding something. The whole point here is simplicity.

To keep things interesting, a speed multiplier gradually counts up as you play, eventually doubling the pace of the game, tripling it, and more, with no limit in sight. When you fail at a game it disappears from the line-up, and when you've lost all 16, you're done. Have fun, and try not to have a heart attack.

Analysis: Grid16 isn't perfect. Not by a long shot. The balancing in the different mini-games is all over the place. Some kill you in seconds without giving you a fair chance to even guess at the right control scheme, while others make you actually go out of your way to fail, at least the first couple of times you see them.

Jmtb02 has removed a lot of the helpful audio/visual cues that accompanied Wario Ware and the Four Second games. The Grid16 mini-games just zap in and zap out without explanation or warning, and if your gamer grammar can't parse the basic shapes into characters, goals, and threats fast enough, you lose. If a mini-game pauses at a dangerous moment, you are pretty much guaranteed to lose the next time it pops up, simply because you won't have time to re-adjust. The instructions that ticker-tape along the top of the screen are more distraction than aid (definitely check them out for humorous easter eggs, though), and the way the entire screen goes black every time the speed multiplier increases just serves to break your concentration.

The worst issue is probably what happens at the end of the game, when you have a single mini-game remaining: it gets terribly boring. None of the games are strong enough to carry your attention on their own; they're only fun when you're flipping rapidly between them. So when you get down to the last one—which is probably the one you're best at anyway—you just watch it get faster and faster until you can't possibly keep up. Inexplicably, that last game will keep pausing and going through the whole switching routine, even though it no longer has anything to switch with. It probably would have worked better to simply end the whole thing when there's only one mini-game left.

But despite all these flaws, Grid16 is an absolute blast. I love the distilled purity of the aesthetic, the aggressive techno score, the battering challenge. The statistics page at the end of the game rates you separately on Prioritizing, Reflexes, and Timing, and that's what it feels like Grid16 is doing sometimes—measuring the potential of your very brain.

Of course, those scores would feel more accurate if the mini-games were less wildly unbalanced, but this is still a successful neurological experiment in a fun-tacular shape. If jmtb02 produces a sequel (and this is the developer behind five iterations of Ball Revamped, so it seems reasonable to expect Grid32 at some point) with tighter design, it will be one of the best of its breed.

Play Grid16

You can also play this game at John's jmtb02 Studios site.


Definitely one that requires a few attempts to get the hang of things. There were a few that didn't even seem to react to a control scheme at first, making failure that much more likely. I ended up in dangerous spots in about four of the screens, which then switched to each of those, one after the other. That string of Dings is disheartening. All in all a fun game to waste a few minutes with though. I did notice that your score isn't visible on the 'Submit Score' screen, so if you weren't paying attention, and you didn't make the leaderboard, you can't go back.


I used to be horribly bad with those Wario games, but that's probably because I played it once against a few friends that were master at it, heh.

So I didn't really expect myself to like this game either, but it's actually quite fun. It's not flawless, both technically and gameplay-wise, but it's certainly not bad. Nice idea. :)


I only had trouble figuring out the goals of two of the mini-games. In one of them I died right as I got it, I survived the other one. The only problem I had with the game as a whole is that I got up to a multiplier of 5.4 and then it became unplayable. The game wasn't registering the controls anymore, specifically on the "shoot the lines" mini-game. I couldn't turn left and right anymore but I could still move up and down.

Overall I really liked it. These kinds of games are fun. Reminds me of Five Second Frenzy. Maybe I'll go play that now :)


i can't say i'm all that impressed with this game either, and i think the review covered most of my concerns. keeping continuity between games is a bad idea, because especially when the speed picks up, you have no time to realize what you needed to do. i love multi-tasking games and mini-game things like this, but i can't say i'm feeling much love for this one. it was okay for the first couple of plays, but i don't think i'll spend too much time on this game.


Hm. Granted I'm on a slightly older computer and I've noticed that sometimes my speed doesn't match other people's speed, but I felt it started too slow. Took a while to get fast enough to hold my interest. I'd start it around x2.2. It also doesn't hold my interest much; around 3.6 or so I quit out of boredom. Keep going back, though. Maybe I should play through to the end once, eh?

Also, I've played 3 times now and still haven't gotten that platform thing in the upper right corner... what IS it?


LS, that game is simply about always landing on a platform, to avoid falling down into the abyss. Simple as that. So just make sure you land on a platform.


I found a bug. On the keep falling level if you hold both the left and right arrow keys you fall right through the platforms. I got to at least X6 before it was too fast for it to work.


I really appreciate your review Psychotronic, it definitely hit a bunch of high and low points of the game that I can apply to any future titles I work on. Far too often I don't feel like I get a good critique, especially when a lot of reviewers are really hit and run on the web these days.

The most critical issue that I faced on this project was trying to orchestrate 16 different titles into a cohesive package, each sharing a single time variable that manages both difficulty and control. The difficulty of game X and game Y does not necessarily rise at the same rate over time, and having to somehow figure out how to neutralize and balance this difference in difficulty/time was quite the challenge for me. It's like getting 16 kindergarteners to sit down in a straight line... as soon as you get one kid seated another one is going to get squirrelly.

My original idea for this game was to actually keep all 16 games active the entire time, not in a suspended state with the computer choosing games for you like it is now. The player would choose games to zoom in on if they needed attention. For example, you could click game 7 if you see the ball about to leave the screen, and then click game 14 to save your block or something... essentially you would be in charge of all 16 running games at once. After realizing no one wants this much responsibility, I decided to let the computer take care of choosing games. Whether this choice will come back to haunt me, I will never be sure :).

Once again, thanks for the excellent review, I appreciate it :).


the main difficulty is figuring out which object I am and what I need to seek or avoid. Color coding so everything green you seek and everything red you avoid would make it much more fun. That way I could instantly understand the game and involve my reflexes more quickly.


Great game! Graphics are minimalist but very good!
I also like the idea of computer changing game. As John said It's better then letting the player select the game manually.

Oh, and by the way my score


this game rocks!!! my fingers are now super tired. quite easy for me probabily coz i play all of them so many times i can react fast.my score:

79% pirotizing,81%reflexes79%timing
top combo:16
total time:258
best multi:4.2
btw, wat is carabous anyway?


I love Wario ware-style of games, but this one is a bit too hysterical for my taste.

The thing I particularly didn't like was the stylized "instructions" on top of the screen. They are too unreadable to actually be useful, yet they needlessly draw your attention away from the game. I would either nuke them completely or make them a bit more prominent at least the first time you see the mini-game.


It is fun to play, but many of the games suffer from the discontinuity. Suppose you're holding down a key and are just about to avoid an enemy, then the game changes. When you return, you don't have that key held down any more; it's like your engine stalled, and you have an unrealistically small amount of time to try to get it back up again. Many times, you can see it coming when you leave a game, knowing that the next time that game pops up, you are screwed.

baba44713 - I actually didn't notice the instructions until I read your comment, and by that time I had already figured out all of the minigames. They are easy enough that you don't need the instructions. I guess the problem occurs when you notice them right away and end up thinking that they are important when they are really not.


this game was fun, i liked the continuity between rounds, made it more difficult.
i did not like the "dodge the green balls" game, i found it way to easy compared to the others.


I have to agree with Psychotronic, Margot, Brian, and others that picking up on what the controls were (or even the goal of the minigame) was hard at first. Learning the hard way isn't necessarily the way to go when you have a limited amount of time on your hands, you're trying to survive, or both. Maybe an instruction screen would help out with this problem.

Apparently, leaving the quality on high on an older computer not only slows everything down, but it seems to allow you to pass through some floors on the Falldown minigame. This allowed me to get up to 6x with the line-shooting game, the Falldown game, and the bounce-off-the-platform game.



The play button doesn't appear in Opera :( had to use IE to play it. (screenshot)


This was a nice game, but there were a few issues.
1. Make sure the player is given all of the games before the speed modifier gets too high. For example, I didn't get to the "keep it in" level until 2.4, which would have been fine if I had known what to do, but it was too fast for me to understand on the fly. Maybe make it first give you the games in sequential order so that you have a chance to understand before it gets too fast.

2. Because I have a slower computer, some games will actually run *slower* as they speed up, because more objects appear on screen at once. I intentionally lost "keep falling" and "shoot lines" because it was lagging so much.

3. The controls get twitchier as time goes by. I lost the "shield center" level because I couldn't move it precisely to block an object and I kept overshooting.

4. This has already been said, but please stop trying to switch games when there's one left! I lost the game finally when it stopped the game for a fraction of a second to switch and I spent a fraction of a second recovering and missed my target.

Cubie Newbie February 28, 2008 4:46 PM

For the 'keep falling down' minigame, as time went by the collision detection seemed to be getting more generous. In fact, it even let me go through a few walls!

I totally agree with how some people feel about the abruptness of the transitions BETWEEN the games. i.e. I would pause at a tough spot, and the nest moment I got to play that game, I instantly died.

Great concept, but I guess implementing it is a challenge.


Wicked game.... once you understand the minigames its a whole lot easier, i find the jumping between games idea could have been a bit better if it wasn't as randomized (i.e some sort of sequence) but its still great...

High score
Top combo:36
time: 395
multi: 6.0
carabous: 7913


OK, sure, it was a new concept. Still, it does a remarkable job for a first time attempt. I enjoyed it from the start and am looking forward to an improvement.

ummagumma March 3, 2008 6:11 PM

Hey, this game is really awesome, my only real problem was the difficulty range going from the green balls, which requires no skill at all, to the near-impossible triangle running away from he circle thing. Overall, I like it, but I have a few questions about scoring:

1. How do they calculate scoring anyway? They give you seven different numbers at the end, and while I understan them by themselves, I'm just wondering how they bring it to one number in the end.

2. Is the scoreboard working? I've tried to enter my score several times but I can't find it. Maybe if I knew how they come to a final scoring it would help...

3. What the hell are carabous anyway?


In regards to the glitch of generously letting the falling through, at about 6x i just left it, only game left and...click


First try:

carabous = 9463
best multi = 7.2
total time = 473
top combo = 73

Incidently, what is carabous and how are the scores on the high score list calculated?


this is a really fun game. i got really lucky with one of the games so i ended up doing really well. i was playing it on espn arcade and it didn't have the stat for "carabous" but here's all my others:

prioritizing: 95%
best multi:10.8
total time:740
top combo:306

David V May 2, 2010 1:06 AM

Grid 16 is a great game to relieve stress, I understand if you cant believe that, my personal best was 9.8 with 3 games remaining, in response to part of the review "and the way the entire screen goes black every time the speed multiplier increases just serves to break your concentration." it should break your concentration because how else can it measure your reflex's, and also I think that's the purpose of the game to break your concentration and increase your ability to use your analytical skills while under duress.


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