From Monolith Productions comes a delightful puzzler called Gruntz. Its humorous, often childlike approach hides a challenge that could trouble even some of the sharpest adults.
In single-player action, your chief objective is to beat the Questz mode, eight four-level, puzzling stages. The game starts out slow with a rather thorough tutorial and a minimum number of Gruntz to control. The challenge is light as you learn the basics, grabbing items like Gauntletz to break rock barricades and Shovelz to dig up holes as well as Toyz used to distract the enemy Disgruntled. Assisting you in learning how to use these items and informing you about the various types of switches are a system of instructions available on a step-by-step basis. Once you complete the tutorial, you'll feel like you're ready for anything. Unfortunately though (unfortunate for light thinkers at least), it doesn't take long for things to get quite difficult.
When the game is at its simplest (i.e., you're in control of two or three Gruntz at most), things aren't incredibly difficult. You'll usually be given the materials to construct new Gruntz as often as needed to step on the proper switches and progress through each level. But then you get more ... and more ... and more. After a while, you'll have more orange gobs of goo at your command than you'll know what to do with. In addition to figuring out the system of switches, you also have to make sure not to spend too much time with an individual.
This is particularly true with the Multiplayer and one-player Battlez modes in which you control an entire army of Gruntz against up to three other armies in what may best be described as a thought-provoking capture-the-flag. A team is out when their king has been captured, and the last remaining team is the victor. It's not uncommon to control as many as 10 (or more) Gruntz at once in one of these heated battles. The fact that you can't see them all on the same screen makes things even more challenging!
But what makes things most interesting -- the whole reason I enjoyed playing it for several hours -- is the game's character. While no one Grunt stands out (outside of the cut-scenes they're all nameless and generic), they have plenty of ways to make you laugh -- especially if you're a pop-culture buff like me. Aside from their Elmo-like utterings of "You got it!" and "!Si, seņor!" they will always break into entertaining renditions of popular songs at level's end, often funky tunes like Superfreak and Shaft. My personal favorite comes when a Grunt is equipped with his ideal tool and proclaims, "By the power of Grayskull ..."
Overall, Gruntz is a great little game to sit down with for a few minutes at a time, ideal for lunch breaks or momentary periods of boredom. I wouldn't call this bargain-priced puzzler a must-have, but any fan of the genre should enjoy it.
Graphics: Bright, cartoon-like and ... well, just plain gooey.
Sound: Whatever you do, don't turn off the speech! The Gruntz are as funny as the game is challenging!
Enjoyment: The puzzles got to be a little too difficult for my taste, but those loveable little Gruntz' antics kept me from feeling frustrated.
Replay Value: Online play is available, so you may be playing this game as long as you have a worthy competitor.
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