As part of the OneBigGame charity initiative, music puzzler Chime helped raise just under $100,000 dollars for Save the Children and the Starlights Children Foundation--a big success for a worthy cause. However, with the upcoming Chime Super Deluxe, developer Zoe Mode is dropping the charity connections to self-publish the game on the PlayStation Network, with the hope that its success on the Xbox 360 can be replicated on the PlayStation 3. Super Deluxe isn't just a simple port, though. There are new tracks, new score bonuses, and new multiplayer features that turn the serene gameplay into something a little more vigorous.
Chime's single-player mode remains mostly unchanged. You're presented with a large grid, on which irregular shaped blocks scroll from left to right. You rotate the blocks and place them on the grid, with the aim being to create three-by-three quads. Once you've created a quad you're awarded points, with that area of the grid changing colour to indicate you've covered it. The more quads you make, the more points you receive, and the more of the grid changes colour, with a percentage meter keeping track of your progress. The twist comes from a vertical bar that scrolls across the grid in time with music playing in the background. Each time it hits a block it plays a musical note, turning the grid into a simple sequencer that creates new melody lines and a constantly changing soundtrack. It's a soothing experience--one that makes each game you play unique, even if you're playing the same backing track each time.
Some small tweaks have been made, though, including an uncapped score counter (which some hardcore players managed to max out in the previous version), and new grid shapes. The concept of perfect quads has also been introduced. If you're able to build a perfect three-by-three square without any leftover pieces of block remaining, you gain a score bonus. By chaining perfect quads together you can dramatically increase your multiplier and rack up extremely high scores. They prove extremely useful in the score-based modes, though if you're after a more sedate experience you can play the Free mode, where you have to gain 100 per cent coverage on each grid, or Time Trial, where you have to do the same in a set amount of time.
One of the most requested features for Chime was multiplayer, and it makes an appearance in Super Deluxe via cooperative and versus modes. In co-op you work together with a friend to fill the grid and get 100 per cent coverage, which is a relaxing affair, and not too dissimilar to the single-player. However, versus changes the feel of the game dramatically. You work against your opponent to try and gain as much coverage as possible. You can steal points from them by adding to quads they've already constructed, or take away areas of the grid they've already covered by creating quads there. It's incredibly frantic, and very satisfying when you see the frustration on your opponent's face as you steal quads or take coverage away.
Along with the new features come new songs, increasing the count to ten. All the original tracks from the Xbox 360 version are included, along with new songs from Sabrepulse, Nathan McCree, electronica duo Plaid, and beatboxer extraordinaire Shlomo. Sabrepulse's track Play With You and Shlomo's The Looping Song are particular highlights. Play With You is an electronic track in the chip tune style, featuring a host of classic 8-bit sounds that were created on an original 1989 Game Boy, giving it a great retro feel. Meanwhile, The Looping Song is a great showcase for the vocal talents of Shlomo, with an impressive range of beats, sound effects, and melodies all constructed from his voice alone.
Since Super Deluxe is a complete rewrite of the XNA based original, the visuals have also seen a significant overhaul, with blocks taking on a semi-translucent finish that gives them a glassy look. The previous top down viewing angle has also been changed, so you now view the grid at a slight angle and see the blocks in 3D. It doesn't affect the gameplay much, but it does make the game look that little bit more impressive. Chime Super Deluxe is due for release on the PlayStation Network on March 29 in the US, and March 30 in the UK, Europe, and Australia. Look out for more on GameSpot soon.