This isn't the brightest puzzle game you'll ever play, but it's a quality distraction in short bursts.
- Lots of good puzzles available to play
- Co-op multiplayer is actually pretty neat.
- Boring when played for long stretches
- Slightly cute, but generally bland presentation.
The premise for Prism: Light the Way, a new puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, is that sullen creatures known as glowbos are dying from darkness. Only the healing light of creatures known as bulboids can save them. To get the bulboids to the glowbos, you have to tap and drag the bulboids, as well as a bunch of power-ups and devices, around each of 120 different puzzle boards. It's a pretty simplistic formula, but one that does manage to make for some tricky puzzles.
The main mode, the puzzle mode, puts you through a progression of all 120 of the game's puzzles. The puzzles themselves are all based on the touch screen, and you simply drag the various pieces around the board until the light refracts to all the glowbos on the stage. However, it's harder than it sounds. Some glowbos are in positions that the bulboids can't reach, given that bulboids shoot light only in a straight line. Others are color-coded and require a specific color of light for success. To reach these specialized glowbos, you have to bend or color the light using light splitters, mirrors, and colored prisms. There are also hard blocks scattered around each stage, which makes positioning even tougher. Creating the necessary strings of light required to feed all the glowbos on the screen is a lot more challenging than you'd expect. Fortunately, there is a hint mechanism to get you moving again if you get stuck, though you lose the hint function after level 40.
Outside of the core puzzle mode, there are a few other options. Time mode adds a ticking clock to the proceedings, and hyper mode does basically the same thing, except that the glowbos explode after a certain amount of time. Predictably, infinite mode gives you an infinite number of random puzzles, and using hints in this mode reduces your score. There are also two multiplayer modes: competitive and cooperative. The competitive mode is just a two-player version of the timed mode, in which both players try to beat a series of puzzles while the clock ticks, and the player who runs out of time first loses. Co-op has you and a friend playing the same puzzle with different halves of the board on each player's screen. You can use only the pieces on your side of the board, which makes this an exceptionally tricky little mode. None of these mode options mess with the core gameplay much, but there's just enough variety to them to keep you from getting bored.
Prism isn't the kind of game that will suck you in for long periods of time. The mechanics are exceedingly simple, and the game's total lack of presentational flair might cause you to doze off from time to time. Nevertheless, Prism's puzzles are generally pretty good, and it's a nice little time killer when played in short bursts. It's not the sort of game that can be played over long stretches, but as the sort of thing you can pick up for a few minutes at a time, it's a decent distraction. The game is maybe a bit overpriced at $29.99, but it's still worth a look if you're on the hunt for a new puzzle game for your DS.