Over the years, countless puzzle games have flooded the market. A large percentage of them have been either uninspired or unoriginal, duplicating the same idea over and over. Once in awhile though, one would emerge out of nowhere and catch us by surprise for their uniqueness and addictive gameplay. Super Puzzle Fighter II in 1996, Lumines and Meteos in 2005, Puzzle Quest in 2007 and finally Frenzic for the iPhone in 2008. First released for the Mac OS X by The Iconfactory and ARTIS Software more than a year ago, Frenzic is a breath of fresh in the puzzle genre.
In Frenzic, you won’t see blocks falling or lined up to be matched. Instead the board is made up of 7 individual circles. Colored pieces of pie wedges appear in the center and you must place them one by one into your choice of surrounding circles. These wedges can only be placed in a circle that has a corresponding open slot. Once a circle is completely filled by six wedges, the pie will then be cleared from the board and ready for new pieces. A life is lost if a piece is not placed before the timer runs out and thus the game ends when all lives are lost.
The scoring system plays a pivotal role in where you want to place each piece. Ideally, your goal should be to fill as many circles as possible with the same color. Using the fewest colors possible in each circle will earn maximum points since each piece of the same color is worth more than the one before it. Completing a pie with all the same color will result in additional bonus points and an extra life.
Frenzic is as much fun as it is challenging. The game starts off with a slower clock, giving you plenty of time to think and piece together the pies by color. As the game progresses however, the timer accelerates and the difficulty increases exponentially. When this happens, both memory and quick reflexes become an asset. You will eventually find your eyes darting all over the board and scrambling to find a spot for a wedge, just so you can get rid of the piece before the timer runs out. Thankfully, power ups will aid you along the way. To gain a power up, you must complete a pie with a single color in one of the three power up spaces (the 12, 4 and 8 o’clock circles). They range from slowing the timer by 50%, doubling all points gained and the ever handy nuke that clears the entire board. Power ups found in other puzzle games can feel gimmicky. In Frenzic, they work beautifully with the game and you must use them wisely to stay alive.
Another reason that will have you coming back for more sweet Frenzic action is the highly interactive score keeping. If you turn on Data upload and download, as well as location services under settings, boat loads of stats will be at your finger tips. All time best players, best players today, friend’s best scores, scores by devotion level (accumulated by the amount of time you spent playing the game) and my favorite, best local scores are all here. As if this weren’t enough, by simply submitting your email address under settings, you will be given a login/password to Frenzic’s web version for tracking your stats. Here you will have access to an even more detailed break down of stats from all players across the globe.
The sound works very well in Frenzic. The music blends in with the frantic action on the board. If its not your cup of tea, you can always turn it off. The sound effects also add to the overall experience of Frenzic. Every time you place a wedge of the same color into a circle, you hear a beat that will eventually become music to your ears. Otherwise, a mismatching color will produce a cow bell like sound letting you know pieces of different colors are being mixed up. Activating a power up will also have its own sound effect. This small touch helps you be aware of whether it is still active or not without looking at the little power up icon.
It has been awhile since I came across a puzzler so addictive and one that keeps you constantly on your toes. It is not an easy game to be good at by any means. Their tagline “Minutes to learn and months to master” is spot on. Their website even has a strategy guide to help you improve your score.
I keep telling my wife that spending more time playing Frenzic is crucial for this review. I just wonder though when she will finally catch on to the fact that the article is already done and that I have become a Frenzic addict. If you enjoy a challenge and love puzzlers, do yourself a favor and give this game a go. You won’t be sorry you did.