The Game: Ketzal's Corridors
Platform: 3DS (eShop)
Describe This Game in Three Words: A Better Tetris
Plot Synopsis: Once a loving god named Ketzal built glorious temples in the spirit world, only for the evil god Koruptal to invade and steal Ketzal's hearts. With the spirit world in chaos, it's up to the spirit kings to reclaim the hearts and bring peace.
Up Up: Ketzal's Corridors is an unbelievably addictive puzzle game that combines the best parts of the Star Wars trench run with Tetris. Using your Aztec-themed blocky spirit kings, you maneuver your way head first through temples by fitting through small holes in the walls. Getting through completely requires quick rotation of your character on a 3-D axis in order to squeeze through the holes. Along the way you also pick up hearts.
The game starts you off nice and slow, but the pace rises quickly. The game rewires your brain completely, and eventually you find yourself gaining the ability to rapidly visualize your avatar in all dimensions. Rotating and moving him becomes second nature, especially since failure to do so drags you all the way back to the beginning of the level.
There are two ways to play. One is to simply get through the temples, a task that shouldn't prove too difficult for the average gamer. The second is to over-obsess about getting the gold medal-level score in each temple in order to unlock every single challenge available. Both are flawlessly fun.
Down, Down: In an era of $1.99 games on the iPhone, $6.99 is a little much for a puzzler. That is literally the only complaint I can muster against this game.
Left, Right, Left, Right: God bless every 3DS gamemaker that still believes in the d-pad and buttons over the stylus. You'll be master of the controls in a snap, though depending on how good you are with spatial relations, it may be a bit before you are automatically aligning your kings in the proper way. They progress from a very simple three-block shape into more complicated ones, so it never really gets easy. Truly the sort of game that you won't be able to put down.
B, A: The trick to racking up enough hearts to net yourself a gold medal in every level is to be sure that you "mark" each open space in the hole by lining up with it, then sliding through the sections that have hearts. These count as tricks and add bonus hearts. The levels don't change, so feel free to practice until each is second nature. The challenge towers, however, are random, and will require raw speed and fast calculations to conquer.
Start?: I haven't been so enthralled in a puzzle game since Zuma (strangely, also vaguely Aztec-themed). I don't care if beating it with all gold medals unlocks Pinhead and Hell on Earth. I'm going to do it.
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