Majesco is attempting to shake up the puzzle genre with Fortress, a Rampart-inspired puzzle game that also incorporates elements from Tetris and Command & Conquer. The original concept and prototype were created by UK-developer Promethean Designs. The development studio licensed the Game Boy Advance version of the game to Majesco, and the game's development is currently being handled by Pipe Dream Interactive, Majesco's internal development studio.
Fortress is a fast-action puzzle/strategy game where you build castle-style structures and compete against computer-controlled opponents or other players via a link cable in an all-out war to destroy your enemy's fortresses. You begin the game by building your castle with bricks that fall down from the sky on a predefined field. These bricks can be used to build the walls of your structure. The more bricks you can cleverly put together, the more points you will be given. Those points can be used to build new items, like different kinds of cannons, a tower for a wizard, or workers who help you repair the fortress once it's damaged by enemy attacks. Once you've finished building an item, it's placed in your fortress, and it immediately starts attacking enemies. You'll also be able to upgrade and customize your weapons--cannons and other projectile weapons can be equipped with different types of artillery, and the attack patterns of special characters can be customized. Fortress also lets you employ characters to help your cause. You'll be able to create repairmen who fix holes in your fortress, soldiers who protect your building at short range, and wizards who cast evil spells and call upon the forces of magic to assist you. The gameplay is obviously an extension of the arcade puzzle game Rampart, with added strategy elements to keep the game interesting.
The game takes place in several different time periods, ranging from the Stone Age and medieval times to the age of exploration and a futuristic setting. The time periods not only affect the look and feel of the buildings and items in the game, but they also affect the availability and function of special items and weapons.
Graphically, the game looks very nice. The animations of the characters are clean and realistic--soldiers, repairmen, and wizards all move in a very convincing manner. Additionally, the backgrounds and fortresses themselves are well drawn and maintain a high graphical standard.
Where Fortress really shines through is in the gameplay department. The game has an extremely deep gameplay experience for a handheld puzzle game, and it has such an addictive gameplay mechanic that you're sure to spend plenty of time with it. Building your base and then battling your enemies is great fun, and the game should appeal to newcomers and experienced gamers alike. Majesco hasn't announced any specific details about the extent of the single-player experience or the availability of multiplayer game modes, but the company did tell us that a four-player multiplayer mode via link cables is being planned for the game. Majesco will also publish Fortress, and the game should be released alongside the launch of the Game Boy Advance in North America.