Eets: Chowdown was originally released on the PC early last year as simply Eets, and now Klei Entertainment has ported the playfully peculiar 2D puzzle platformer to Xbox Live Arcade. The gameplay is heavily inspired by Lemmings in the sense that you don't have direct control of your character, but you can influence its path and behavior by placing different objects in the environment. It's an easy game to pick up, but the cartoonishly warped art style belies a hearty challenge as you get further into the game. The levels certainly get more complicated as you advance through the seven different worlds of Eets: Chowdown, but the action remains consistent throughout the game.
There are 120 levels in Eets: Chowdown, and the underlying goal in all of them is the same: Get Eets—a diminutive, white-skinned marshmallow monster—from its starting point to a glowing puzzle piece that's usually in a hard to reach place. Because you can't move Eets around directly, you'll have to rely on a predetermined loadout of odd devices. While there are big, blue, ill-tempered whales or trampolines with eyeballs that you can use to launch Eets across the screen, affecting Eets' mood is often as essential as its location. Eets' mood, which can be sad, happy, or angry, will determine whether it'll turn away, jump a short distance, or jump a long distance when it reaches a ledge. But you can use color-coded mood marshmallows or clouds that pump out chocolate chips to change its mood.
Each level is divided into two stages. In the build stage, everything remains static and you're able to place your bizarre machinations wherever you please. Once everything is coordinated to your liking, you pull the right trigger to start the action stage, which is where Eets will start walking forward and its path to oblivion will only be blocked by whatever devices you've put in its way. At first, the levels in Eets: Chowdown seem designed to have one solution, but as they become more complicated, multiple avenues to success open up because of the physics-based nature of the game and the ever-expanding variety of objects you'll be able to access. Your score is determined in part by how quickly you're able to finish each level, so there's an incentive for you to find the "right" way to finish each level. There's a lot of trial and error to Eets; thus, it's not uncommon to get Eets halfway through a level before you find Eets going in an unexpected direction and jumping off a cliff. If you find a level to be too frustrating, the game will offer up a hint as to where you need to place one or two objects to progress. The game doesn't seem to penalize you for using the hints, which seems like an oversight, but at least the hints help keep the game moving.
In addition to the hours and hours that can be spent in Eets: Chowdown's main game, there's a minigame called Marsho Madness. While Eets' head sits in the middle of the screen, marshmallows of different shapes and sizes, each tagged with a unique button combination, will start creeping in from the outer edges. By punching in one of the marshmallow's button sequences, you'll lock on to them. Then you can fire a projectile at that marshmallow, blowing it and any other nearby marshmallows right off the screen. Marsho Madness starts out at a leisurely pace, but after about five minutes, your screen will be swarming with more anthropomorphic marshmallows than you can manage. And once each marshmallow reaches Eets' head in the center, you lose a life. It's a novel little endurance test, and single-system multiplayer, plus a full-on leaderboard system, make it fun to compete against friends.
Eets: Chowdown approaches its action puzzle concept with a good deal of enthusiasm, and it's easy to get wrapped up in the game. The ridiculous art style and goofy sound design are endearing, while the puzzles are challenging without being upsettingly frustrating.