I really wanted to like this game. I have a real thing for one-man development teams and indie games in general. But while the nature of the platform, and Microsoft’s indie games scene in general, lends itself well to concept demos and C.V. pieces, it rarely produces what you would call a ‘good’ game. Some are passable, others charming, and still others offer great value for money at 80 points, but for the most part, they’re just not very good games.
I hate to say it, but Ace Of Dynamites just doesn’t do it for me. As soon as I started having fun with it, that enjoyment was snatched away quick-sharp, by the shocking controls and elementary level design issues. You can’t expect people to enjoy a game, regardless of how well conceived an idea it is, if they simply don’t have the right tools to play it properly.
Still, as a concept, it’s a decent enough one. The main objective is to get to the end of each level by blowing up various obstacles with dynamite. En route, there are a certain number of gems to collect, but the real pleasure comes from working out exactly how to complete the puzzle. And that is a joy. However, actually trying to execute your plan is remarkably difficult.
As you can see from the screenshots, you take control of a great floating face, and while this is an interesting stylistic choice, it does nothing for the collision detection. Indeed, that is probably the biggest issue. You control a rectangular block, and are pushing other blocks around. The trouble is that there are much better ways of doing this using other shaped blocks.
Push a block too far to the side of the level, and you have to restart. The game often relies on you being able to push a block with pixel-perfect precision. This is not an easy task. There are ways around it, in many instances, with you actually using the level design to your advantage, but while this is clearly a concerted move on the part of the developer, it doesn’t feel like the most efficient way of doing it. Similarly, accidentally touch a block of dynamite, and you more than likely have a situation that demands a restart.
It’s this kind of frustration that dominates, rather than the more positive and enjoyable aspect of solving the conundrum. As I said, I really wanted to like this game, and with just a few tweaks in the control and basic game mechanics, this would have easily warranted an 80-point purchase. As it stands, however, it’s more of a frustration than anything.
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