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FWD Progress 12-11-09: CogniFit, Kurulin and PixelJunk

Kurulin Fusion ScreenshotI was having some trouble writing up Pokemon Rumble, so I decided to publish my reviews of Excitebike: World Rally and Frogger Returns separately. I didn’t want the work I’d done on them to get stagnant or go unused. I’m finding it tough to put FWD Download features together because its hard for me to write short, sub-500 word reviews.

Because Game Forward is so heavily focussed on downloadable games now, I’ll likely switch the features so that they only include apps and games that are under $5. The next one will be a look at some of health and fitness apps available for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Read More...

I’m continuing to evaluate the CogniFit Personal Coach software and I continue to be impressed by it on a bi-daily basis. I can see and feel myself getting better at tasks that I was struggling with at the start of the process a month ago and though it may sound silly, I swear I can feel my brain “fire-up” when I sit down for a training session and it helps me feel more alert when I hit my afternoon wall.

I started the first 48-day cycle of the program with higher than normal results in many of the 14 cognitive abilities that CogniFit Personal Coach ranks you on. It does an excellent job setting tasks related to my stronger abilities to a higher level to maintain my skills in those areas. It also adjusts on-the-fly when I’m struggling with a task and will bump down the difficulty level so I never feel too frustrated or overwhelmed.

Because I’m an avid gamer, I may look at  this software differently than others, but I genuinely find the training sessions fun and often they provide a rewarding challenge to my memory or motor skills. This program could easily be marketed as a game for the Wii, DS or iPhone/iPod Touch.

It features a clean and polished presentation and the tasks aren’t too far removed from things in the Brain Age or Big Brain Academy games to be intimidating to a casual gamer audience. The difference is that CogniFit Personal Coach actually works and is worth the asking price for a yearly subscription to the online training program. I’ll have a full overview of the program posted in the coming weeks as I finish my first cycle.

PixelJunk Shooter ScreenshotOur PSP Go is getting a lot of love these days. In addition to being hopelessly addicted to the surprisingly great Creature Defense that was released in November, we downloaded Kurulin Fusion and Battle Poker this week, one of which is good.

Kurulin Fusion is a puzzle game that reminds me of Columns, Lumines and, of course, Tetris. Two types of objects, Fusion Blocks and Energy Orbs fall from the top of the play field. You can move, rotate and hard-drop these objects into place and matching Fusion  Blocks and Enery Orbs of the same colour will make them disappear.

You can build large rectangles of Fusion Blocks to score more points and create chain reactions. If you clear a 3x3 Fusion Block, it will clear all Energy Orbs of that colour from the play field. Much like Tetris, the game will end if a piece cannot fall below the top of the play field and you are given a hold queue foe assistance.

Kurulin Fusion features four play modes. Arcade serves as a marathon mode in which pieces fall faster as you progress through levels. There are some unique mechanics at work in this mode that I don’t quite understand yet, but sometimes pieces will speed up exponentially for a short period of time. Score Attack is self-explanatory and Mission mode tasks you with clearing preset puzzles. There is also ad-hoc multiplayer which I plan to test using the Ad-hoc Party feature of the PS3 before I write my review.

The game sports a highly polished presentation that rivals Lumines and also features interpretations of the works of J.S. Bach by legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu . For $5, you really can’t go wrong with Kurulin Fusion.

The Remote Play feature is by far one of my favourite things about owning both a PSP and a PS3, though it is vastly underused. Q Games however has embraced the feature with their stylish PixelJunk series of games and that trend continues with PixelJunk Shooter.

The title is a bit misleading and though you do indeed shoot stuff in PixelJunk Shooter, the game has more in common with Lunar Lander or the recently released Gravity Crash than it does Super Stardust HD. Your primary goal is to navigate your ship through cavernous levels and rescue survivors with a sort of grappling hook.

Early on, I’m finding myself solving light environmental puzzles that use a cool water and lava system. I can see these puzzles getting more complicated as I go and I’m really enjoying it so far. The game is fairly easy to control and uses the analog sticks and triggers on the PS3. The control setup is a bit different when playing via Remote Play, but I found it easy to adapt.

The look of PixelJunk Shooter is most comparable to that of PixelJunk Eden and it uses 2D art and slightly contrasting colours to create its world. The water looks particularly good and the whole package seems to be running at 60 fps on the PS3. The PixelJunk games have had great audio to this point and PixelJunk Shooter is no exception, featuring a great atmospheric soundtrack from High Frequency Bandwidth; a project headed by Dr. Alex Paterson of The Orb.

I’ll be digging deeper into PixelJunk Shooterin the coming days and hope to have a review up before our holiday break.