February 9, 2010 8:00 AM |
XONG, a lo-fi, hi-octane action puzzler, is quite the genre mashup.
Play This Thing! describes XONG as a brick-breaking puzzle game -- think Breakout or Arkanoid -- but with roguelike graphical aspects. (I'd like to quickly point out, rather snootily, that the game could more accurately be described as ZZT-like, since it has ZZT's same colorful ANSI graphics in common. It also has a bitchin' soundtrack.)
In XONG, your goal is to sink your enemies -- which have dangerous trailing tails, a la Snake -- into little "black holes" randomly scattered about the board.
To do this, you flit about the game board, laying down small arcs, or "chevrons," which alter your adversaries' course, steering them toward the sinkholes. Unfortunately, most of the black holes will be walled in from the start, so you'll also need to pong your ball, or "puck," into those barriers, chipping away until you've cleared a pathway to your intended abyss.
But be careful! It's easy to mismanage your chevrons or to mistakenly direct your pucks into black hole vortices, so you'll need to plan your moves quickly and deliberately. You'll also need to make sure your pong ball, which can change color (I know, what?), is the right hue before you can advance to the next stage.
Play This Thing! does warn that some of the game boards are randomly unsolvable, which could well be frustrating for players who were otherwise on a roll. Still, XONG is fun, free, open-source, and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. See? So you have no excuse to not download it immediately.