Are you a cats or dogs kind of person? If you must know, I’m a big fan of cats. For proof, here’s my two furry critters: Pixie and Timmy. And I’m not just throwing this question out here for any ol’ reason, but I think you could potentially use that common question and apply it to videogames as well, such as so: are you a Call of Duty or Battlefield kind of fan? Crash Team Racing or LittleBigPlanet Karting? Or, to get right down to it, are you a Bejeweled or Hexic kind of puzzler?
For me, I never really played much Bejeweled save for a round or two on Facebook when I had a few minutes to kill and wanted to see who else on my friends list was doing the same. I’m a Hexic man through and through, and I’m fine with that. Heck, the game was designed by Alexey Pajitnov of, y’know, Tetris fame, so it’s got some serious cred behind its creation. Anyways, Hexic HD came pre-installed on my original Xbox 360–which is still operating since mid-2009–and I played it a lot. Almost like a friendless fiend. No, really. I would come home from work on my lunch-break to eat and instead shove food into my mouth as fast as possible while I dangled a controller on my lap and stared at a screen of tiles, analyzing the scenario and seeing which ones to turn next. Eventually, I moved away from Hexic HD as the remaining Achievements seemed nigh impossible to unlock, and they still do some five years later, but it remains a fun memory.
But Microsoft knows I’m still their unconditional, unwavering Hexic man, releasing a version for both Windows 8 and the Windows 8 phone for me to eat up. Naturally, I played the latter, and while it is far from perfect, it’s been a great little game to eat up ten to fifteen minutes every day as I progressed through all of its 100 levels. For those that don’t know how it plays, you are trying to rotate hexagonal tiles to create certain patterns and clear spaces on the board or create special tiles that have various effects. This time around, the mobile version sets different goals for each level, like hit X amount of points or destroy all of the dark tiles in X number of moves. It’s more goal-driven, which works in its favor for gaming on the go.
There’s also a bit of story, with a blue-faced tile encouraging you forward. It’s light and thin stuff, but it is nice to read some cutesy–if throwaway–dialogue between rounds and learn about how certain power-ups work.
Now for the negatives. Hoo boy.
Hexic is a free-to-play game that asks you, pretty frequently, to spend real money. Either on special boosters or extra lives. See, you get five lives–also know as five chances not to fail a level–and they refresh themselves over time. I think it’s maybe around 20 to 25 minutes for one new life to be gained. If you run out of lives, but want to keep playing and can’t wait around, well…the game has a store button for you. I’m not one to ever get involved in microtransactions, and let it be known that you can complete every level in the game without spending a real U.S. dollar; granted, I probably would’ve been finished with the game a month or so ago if I had, but there is nothing wrong with making something last. Patience is a plus.
The game also ends up crashing a lot, seemingly for no real reason. The first few times I chalked it up to how I was holding the phone and maybe I accidentally bumped the back arrow or something. Nope, not it. You’ll be doing well, making combos and gaining a high score, and suddenly you are kicked from the game back to your phone’s main screen. A straight dump. What’s even more frustrating is that when you log back in to play, the life you were just on is gone, and so not only did you mess up a good run, but you’re down one life. Knowing this also helped fuel my desire to never spend a single dime on extra BS because I had to now live and play in constant fear of crashes.
I haven’t uninstalled Hexic from my phone just yet, but I really think I might be done with my tile-turning time. For now. There’s maybe one or two more Achievements I could possibly go after, but the remainder seem to require some hard-earn money to get close to, and while I love Hexic, I don’t love it that much.