Qwirks is a simple puzzle game in which colored blobs fall from the top of the screen, and the player has to arrange them in collections of four or more. The game is a variant of Puyo Puyo, but Spectrum HoloByte had a license from the original creators.
Chances are you've played Qwirks before. The game is a descendant of Puyo Puyo, which made its debut in 1991 on a Japanese computer called the MSX-1. Since then, it has seen many different versions under a multitude of titles: Kirby's Avalanche for the Super Nintendo, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine for the Genesis, and a slew of Japanese sequels and spinoffs. The game is very easy to get into and extremely hard to put down, a characteristic of all great puzzle games.
Play involves moving pairs of different colored Quirks that fall from the ceiling. These pairs can be moved left, right, clockwise and counterclockwise, as you attempt to link four similarly colored Qwirks together. Once you connect four Quirks (either horizontally, vertically or a combination of the two), they will disappear from the playing field. Combinations, referred to as cascades, are performed whenever a "hanging" Quirk breaks apart and falls down creating a match.
This is primarily how you defeat other players, since the combinations will drop harmful Quirks down your opponent's playing field. Cascades can also send helpful Quirks to your side, such as a Blue Crystal Qwirk which eliminates all other blue Qwirks in your well. The goal is to either clear all of the Qwirks or to have your opponent's well filled to the top so he or she cannot move.
The heart of the game is the Challenge Mode, where you taken on twelve increasingly difficult computer opponents. The screen is divided in half, with a large picture of the computer character in the center of the screen. The various critters (referred to as Zoo creatures) will animate in the square during play, expressing happiness or displeasure depending on how the game's going. You can also select different difficulty levels, but the characters aren't too hard to beat once you learn how to make cascades.
The first five or so are basically warmups and most players will fly through them on their first attempt. This leaves us with the Two-Player Mode, which is the same as the Challenge Mode, but with a friend instead of the computer. Unfortunately, you can only play on the same machine, which is rather weak considering the release date. Internet, network and modem support should have been offered as options and would have raised the overall score. Still, those looking for a fun puzzle game on their PC could do a lot worse than Qwirks.
This is a a good Tetris variation with difficult computer opponents, each with unique playing style. Players can manipulate the path of falling Qwirk, rotate its position, and speed up its rate of descent. When four Qwirks of the same color connect horizontally or vertically, they explode and are eliminated, yielding points. As the player removes Qwirks from his field, he sends extra Qwirks to his opponent. Overall, a fun puzzler that's still Tetris at heart.
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