Abundante! Review

By Marc Saltzman |

Make some room on your calendar because a little ‘ol game you haven’t heard of–Abundante!— is waiting to be downloaded, and believe me, you won’t be able to stop once you begin.

Before we get to the story, the premise behind this arcade puzzler is simple enough–well, to start, anyway.

Gamers are presented with a grid of randomly placed gems insides of bricks, such as red rubies, green emeralds, white diamonds and blue sapphires. Using your mouse, you must roll your mining cart at the bottom of the screen left or right and click to grab the bottom gem(s) of the same color. Then, you must roll the cart and click again to shoot it back up towards the grid; the idea is to create at least four adjoining gems of the same color, which breaks the bricks and releases the gems so that you can catch them as they cascade down to the bottom of the screen. Don’t take your time breaking these bricks, as the rows slowly begin to descend; if they touch the bottom, it’s game over.

Sounds like fun–and you’ll no doubt succumb to the "just one more level" phenomenon found in well-made casual games–but this, my friend, is just the beginning.

Before long, gamers will begin to see a twist in the game-play as you must also create specific patterns of these gems in order to receive bonus points (i.e., more falling gems) at the end of the level–which is a blast to catch and rack up your score. Players will see what shapes to make out of the gems on the right-side of the screen such as a 2×2 (box) shape, four in a row horizontally, a letter "L," and so on. This adds another layer of strategy to the game-play.

Also, players will begin to unlock power-ups, such as a fireball that can be sucked down to your cart and then shot back up to explode nearby bricks, which release more gems, or a lightning blot that can zap an entire row or column. Obstacles will also begin to appear on your grid, beginning with green moss that prevents you from breaking the infected brick. The good news is you can destroy it by breaking an adjoining brick, but the bad news is that the moss spreads to nearby bricks if you don’t act fast enough. Gamers will also strategically use the scaffolding bricks on the screen, which crumble quickly and topple down the gems above it.

I mentioned Abundante! has a story–you play as a female explorer who is traveling through the fictional exotic land of Nahca Rotha. Gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds include Aztec-like scenes such as jungles, ancient buildings and scenic landscapes. Your goal is to play through the 100 levels to reach the Lost Temple and unravel the mysterious story of this ancient culture.

You’ll get to play a mini-game every few levels, where you must click on a prize bonus on a pyramid and work your way up to win better prizes throughout the game. Players will also unlock pieces of a missing amulet every 10 levels or so, which is tied to the story.

Without giving much away, players who complete the main game will unlock a second game mode; completing the second game mode will unlock a third.

Abundante! players will be hard pressed to find anything to complain about with this A-grade puzzler. It takes a familiar casual game formula and adds a ton of game-play twists, unlockable modes and high-production values. Do yourself a favor and download this game and you might just surface around the first of the year. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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