Ocean’s newest attempt at a puzzler comes in the form of a lake building, ground bombing frenzy called Wetrix. The goal is simple enough: Build lakes, don’t die. Of course, the implementation of this idea into smooth playing reality isn’t exactly a great transition.
Like most other puzzlers, Wetrix’s main game takes place on a single platform, as additional levels are acquired as the points are racked up. Taking a 3rd quarter perspective that can be partially adjusted it’s up to you to guide multi-shaped blocks into patterns that will hold the water that soon follows. Therein lies the fundamental goal of Wetrix, building lakes. Using the shapes given, you can raise or lower the elevation of the land in the attempt to capture as much water as you can. Water can take the form of small droplets or large bodies, all falling from the sky. Try to keep as much of the water in the area given as any spillage over the side is accounted for in a bar located on the right of the screen. Once the bar is filled to its entirety, it’s Game Over!
Of course, trying to corral the water isn’t the only thing you’ll have to pay attention to. Alongside the water and shapes also fall bombs and comets. Bombs leave small holes in the ground (which can thankfully be repaired with any ordinary piece) which drain the water extremely quickly. Comets are another matter. If you haven’t managed to make enough small lakes to hold the water in, and some serious spillage is occuring the comets will evaporate the entire lake. Of course, if there isn’t any lake around then they’ll wreck havoc on your landscape. Choose landing sites carefully.
For a puzzler, Wetrix boasts some pretty spiffy graphics. Bright, colorful shapes as well as smoothly warping backgrounds are a nice touch. The water motion effect is notably impressive. The soundtrack and voice totally fits the game and isn’t something you’re likely to turn down.
The control of the pieces feel a little bit loose, especially using the N64’s analog stick, and has more often than not caused many a GF staff member to lose a match. Not only that, but the line of vision you’re given to inspect your play area is somewhat distorted by the game’s use of pastel coloring. This is something you’ll probably get over after extended play, granted you give it enough time to settle in. Two player mode is fun, but the frame rate suffers a bit and split screen vision is somewhat limited.
Although it’s no Tetris, Wetrix makes strides towards new and original ideas in the puzzle catagory, one that’s desperately in need of a shot of originality to keep players interested. While some people have a ball with it, it just wasn’t my thing.