What do you get when you combine Tetris with a upbeat rhythm? You get the sequel to 2009’s Chime, Chime Sharp. While I was hoping to find my next puzzle obsession, I instead found myself bewildered at exactly what was going on. Admittedly, I never played Chime, but from what I’ve read, Chime Sharp seems to be the same but with more modes and songs. If you are a fan of the series, that alone should be enough incentive to buy Chime Sharp. But what about the rest of us? That’s where things get a little complicated.
The instructions for playing Chime Sharp consist of a controller mapping image and the following: “Create solid blocks of 3×3 to make ‘quads’. Make or extend quads to cover the grid. More coverage = more time + increased score. Enjoy!” Seems simple enough, there’s a rectangular space with grids for laying the blocks. I can rotate them and I don’t even need a clear path to slide them into place, unlike Tetris. Controlling the pieces was simple with either the d-pad or analog stick as was rotating them. Aside from occasionally slipping and prematurely placing a piece in the wrong spot, things were working well. The stage was set for some puzzling fun!
I chose the first level, right away very enjoyable electronica music began to play and I carefully cycled through the pieces, trying my best to lay them in “quad” form. Right when I was starting to get in a groove, very large numbers flashed on screen: 10…9…8…7… all the way to zero; the game was over after only a few minutes. My completion percentage was pretty low, in the mid 20%, and sadly I did not unlock any of the other modes. I wondered if I did something wrong, why did it end so quickly? It takes much talent and speed to earn the required time boosts to play for longer periods. Chime Sharp is the type of game that expects the player to enjoy getting their butt kicked and come back for more in search for the highest score on the leaderboard.
What I found most confusing is that while you are arranging pieces there is a scanner that passes over them slowly from left to right. After a few passes you can then place new blocks on the original blocks you laid down. After even more passes from the scanner, pieces of blocks will break off, which lowers your coverage percentage. The whole concept is very confusing and the game doesn’t explain any of it. Again, the highlight of the game is the music, each level had it’s own unique beat that encouraged dancing in your chair.
Each level has 5 modes: Practice, Standard, Sharp, Strike and Challenge. Sharp mode removes the timer but requires you to use certain pieces. You must plan ahead to make perfect quads and it is a much slower form of playing. Strike mode gives the player 90 seconds to fill the board as much as possible. Finally, Challenge mode is the same as standard mode but it has specific objectives. Anyone who sticks with the game and hones their skills can get a lot of replay value out of the game.
Chime Sharp is a very hard game to recommend to anybody who isn’t a hardcore puzzle fan. If you are unfamiliar with the series, then you might find yourself quickly confused and frustrated. Players who “get it” will have a bevy of songs and modes to unlock for quite a long time. Anyone looking for a more laid back and casual experience should sharpen their senses elsewhere.