Connectrode is a new puzzler from Deep Plaid Games that ticks all the right boxes for entertainment, addiction, challenge and value. Taking a novel approach to the “matching” puzzle style, Connectrode offers a unique experience to owners in terms of gameplay by forcing them to think a few moves ahead, a strategy that is necessary to being successful.What first appears as just another matching puzzle game quickly proves that it can stand on its own merits, quite apart from the usual games found in this genre. Instead of flipping or moving blocks to create a connection which will remove them from the screen, Connectrode starts you off with a randomly generated board stacked up with different coloured “chips”. Depending on which of the four difficulty settings you’ve chosen, the number of chips on the board will vary, as will the amount of room you have to work with. To remove the chips from the board you have to link them together with “Connectors”; create a chain of connectors between two (or more!) chips and watch the whole package get fried off the board, leaving you more room to play.
There are a variety of six different coloured chips which must be matched using the correspondingly coloured connectors. Which connector you get to use each turn is all down to luck, making planning ahead a bit more difficult. Each turn you’ll find your connector at the top of the screen so simply drag it to where you want to position it and tap the “Place” icon to lay it there. The real difficulty in this game lies in the placement of connectors, and your major concern is board accessibility. Things can get a little crowded on the board and if you’re not careful you could snooker yourself by putting the wrong connector in the wrong place. Connectors can only travel along free areas of the board, that is, they can’t travel through other chips or connectors, so it can be an easy mistake to accidentally block half the board off with a misplaced connector. Thinking ahead and staying focused can help you to make sure you leave yourself plenty of room to work with.
Scoring is a fairly straightforward matter; every time you make a connection you’ll get points. You can maximise your points by removing chips in subsequent turns, causing a multiplier to start building up, as well as removing more than two chips per turn. Also, making sure that you don’t have any solo chips or excess connectors left over will score you some bonus points. Due to the fact that each stage is randomly generated, it would have been difficult to compare scores with other players but the developers found a solution to this by allowing you to post your scores to Facebook and Twitter, creating a link for your friends to be able to play the same stage in an attempt to better your score. There is also talk of Game Center integration on the way, presumably to compare high scores based on difficulty levels.
A couple of other lovely features of Connectrode is the cute graphics and the ambient music. The graphics are deliberately a touch pixelated in staying with the theme of computer chips and the facial expressions on the chips themselves can be quite amusing. The music is perfect for the game, it lends itself to concentration and focus but also gives the feeling that the pressure is on; nothing less could be expected from David Pencil, the soundtrack composer for Penny Arcade TV Season 2.
Connectrode bucks the trend of the matching puzzler with an innovative approach that is easily accessible to all ages and skill levels. Mastering the art of board management and Connetor positioning will take time and gives the game a great degree of replayability. Added to that is the beautiful design plus the ability to compare scores with friends, all factors which make this game great value for money and definitely worth checking out.
– Dom S