The nice thing about the Xbox Live Arcade is that you generally know what you're getting before you download it. Beyond the classic games that everybody knows (Sonic, Bomberman, Doom, etc.), the Xbox Live Arcade also features Texas Holdem, Uno and a bunch of other games that people will instantly recognize. But every so often there comes a game whose name is no help whatsoever, the kind of name that doesn't give you any kind of hint as to what kind of game it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our newest example of this phenomenon - GEON: emotions.
If you can't figure out what GEON: emotion is based on its name then don't feel bad, because I certainly wouldn't have guessed the genre by looking at that title. In fact, if I had to wager a guess at what kind of game it is I probably would have guessed it was some sort of life simulator, or perhaps even one of those Japanese dating games. But it's not, GEON: emotion is the new puzzle game for the Xbox Live Arcade, it's the first game created by Strawdog Studios, the relatively new UK-based developer.
GEON: emotions is something of a variation on the Pac-Man theme, you play a small cube who is tasked with moving around a large maze/grid picking up all of the yellow dots. What sets this game apart from the obvious Pac-Man comparisons is that this game is all about the one-on-one battles. Think of this as a three-dimensional Pac-Man built for two players. The way it works is that there are two people on a single board at the same time. One person is on the top and the other person is on the bottom of the board. Each player is doing their own thing by picking up their own dots, ultimately trying to clear the board before the other guy. The problem is that each player can only hold a certain amount of yellow dots at one time, so the object of the game is for you to move around the board filling your yellow dot meter and then depositing them a large marked circle. But that's easier said than done, because in order to deposit those yellow dots you will have to switch sides with your enemy and move to their goal. The player that is able to clear the board and takes their five filled yellow dot meters to the enemy's goal first is the winner. It's that simple.
What makes all this even trickier is that each player will pick up various power-ups along the way. Some power-ups will improve your attributes, such as the power-up that doubles your speed or the one that makes you magnetic so that the yellow dots will come to you ask you traverse the level. Other power-ups are more about screwing the other player up, such as an item that makes your enemy lose a bunch of his collected dots or one that blocks your opponent's path. Knowing how to use these power-ups is the difference between winning and losing, especially when you jump into a multiplayer game.
I bet I know what you're wondering, where does the name GEON: emotion fit in to the game? Oddly enough the game's characters are all based on various human emotions, such as rage, fear, envy, melancholy, bliss, passion, and courage. While each of the characters (which are really nothing more than small blocks) play the same, you will find that each of the emotions have a different special power-up and a slightly different look. For example, the Passion character will allow you to move across the board in a split second while hearts float out of the block.
What will keep you coming back for more is the nice variety of level designs. In all there are 32 levels (not including the single-player only mini games), there are eight types of levels with four variations each. Although you may not see it at first, GEON's level designs are ingeniously laid out. The further you go into the 32 levels the more complex and downright over-the-top the levels become, many of which include moving platforms, loopty loops and other obstacles. By the end of the game you are being asked to collect hundreds of yellow dots before your opponent, a task that can get real tricky when you combine the power-ups and moving platforms.
GEON: emotions is a solid stab at the Pac-Man style of puzzle game, but it's brought down by the high price point and limited amount of modes. You'll probably have fun with the game for a few hours, but with nobody to play with online and only 40 levels it's hard to recommend this game to anybody but the most hardcore Pac-Man fanboy.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!