There is a board game known as Robo Rally, created by the same man that gave the world Magic: The Gathering. In this game, small laser armed robots must be guided through a grid like, and not-very-safety-conscious factory floor where crushes, conveyor belts, flame throwers and all sorts of other nasties, including opponent’s robots are out to get your little metal buddy.
To guide your robot around the grid maze each player must secretly ‘program’ his bots actions using cards with move arrows upon them. There are no dice involved, the skill is in how each players program plays out each turn, taking into account the rules of the board components, and allowing for expected and unexpected collisions with other bots. It is hilarious, frustrating, mind-blowing fun, and would make a great turn-based computer game one day.
Rush, unfortunately, is not that game, but the abstraction of guiding a mindless automaton through a grid maze is reminiscent of times spent on the Robo Rally factory floor.
Through sixty six brightly coloured levels, the aim is to set out predominantly directional tiles on the 3D block grid puzzle board, hit the start button, watch the rolling cubes spring into life, and hope your guidance will see them home.
Each cube relentlessly follows a straight path until it either hits another cube or rolls of the edge of the board, thus failing the puzzle, or hits one of your directional tiles or a wall. Hitting a wall will make the cube turn to the right, if there is a wall there already then the cube will effectively be heading back the way it came (not usually a good thing when a number of other cubes will be streaming along directly behind it).
So the puzzle is in laying out a limited amount of tiles to safely direct the cubes to their colour coded destination. Apart from the right-hand turn rule when hitting walls, there could also be warp tiles to consider on each level, furthermore, as the difficulty of the puzzles ramps up, there will be 3D aspects to consider, with most puzzle formations consisting of multiple levels.
Timing becomes the biggest unknown. No matter how well you reckon you have used up your allotted directional, delay, or split (that divert cubes down separate paths alternatively) tiles, you may have not allowed for the timing release sequence, or drop of the lemming-like cubes.
Often on these puzzles it will be trial and error that builds experience in mastering the timings. There is also a tiered hit system giving guidance to where tiles should be laid, or indeed if the correct tile is in the right place.
Often the clue to a puzzles solution is simply in the allocation of the directional tiles in each puzzle. Generally if you use up all the allotted tiles, you have nailed the solution. Interestingly there can be multiple ways to solve some puzzles – resulting in one of the most satisfying of the 21 unlockable achievements available.
Rush does its job well, it masters that simple set of rules and builds a robust set of levels that will have you scratching your chin occasionally over the relatively short time it takes to get through the content.
The presentation is bright and breezy, only hampered by some awkward very cubic puzzles making tile laying difficult, and the robotic voice over and buoyant music enhance the experience – too bad the music is either off or on, a sliding volume scale would have been nice.
Another great addition would have been a level editor, with the ability to share creations via the Rush online community. Overall however it is a nice way to blast through a few puzzling hours, now can some developer pick up the Robo Rally license from Wizards of The Coast please?