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DS  header logo

I Heart Geeks!

For: DS

Science good, art bad

Product: I Heart Geeks! | Developer: CDV Software | Publisher: CDV Software | Format: DS | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: US
 
I Heart Geeks! DS, thumbnail 1
A bit of insider knowledge for you readers: cdv Software – the maker of I Heart Geeks! – has very much touted the art style of itsr title in communications with game sites.

"I Heart Geeks! has a really cool art style by Marc Ecko" reads the press release. But the company is wrong to say this, because it most certainly doesn't.

From the front of the box right through to the characters and the minimal number of cut-scenes, the game is ugly to behold. Save for no-frills object design, everything about its look screams, "my child made this in Microsoft Paint".

And the premise isn't much more substantial: insultingly basic stereotypes of cartoon nerds wage scientific war against equally obvious caricatures of jocks, their bespectacled faces made of little more than a few circles and lines, filled with flat shaded colours.

Poindexter's lab

Yet there's true beauty in I Heart Geeks!'s sophisticated puzzle design. A complex and robust array of interconnected gameplay tools allows you to construct elaborate doohickeys and solve set tasks.

This can be as simple as switching on a light bulb by connecting it to a battery right up to launching multiple fireworks simultaneously or powering a fan through a combination of a steam engine, cogs, a tennis ball, and a length of chain.

Those who've played The Incredible Machine will instantly understand what cdv Software's latest has to offer: a collection of Rube Goldberg-esque head-scratchers.

These are broken up into four themes representing each of the geeks, including mechanics, liquids and gases, optics, and electricity and magnetism.

Time and failure is rarely a consideration. You can sit and stare at most of the 100 or so puzzles for as long as you desire. Only in the boss battles - where Gilbert, Milton, Theodore, or Eugene take on one of the bullies directly – is there any sort of impetus to work quickly.

These occasions are rare and break up the slow pace and rapidly increasing difficulty. They're simple tasks, but ones you have to complete with haste.

For the rest of your play time the eureka moments are usually drawn out. First comes the examination of what equipment you have at your disposal, then experimenting with initial ideas, and finally connecting everything together, followed by a smug grin.

Placing objects in the world can be a little tricky at first. At any time the bottom screen - containing every object you've been assigned - can be swapped with the top screen - which holds the play field.

Selecting, say, a battery, light bulb and cable is a matter of tapping to highlight them, swapping screens, and finally placing them in the desired location.

Scientific precision

An issue arises when you tap items out of the order you'd like to add them. If you select battery first, then the cable, then the bulb, you must add them to the field of play in that exact sequence.

The problem is that you can't add the cable before you've added the two objects it connects to. There's no way to change the order in which you'll place the items without first swapping back to the inventory screen. It's a hassle and breaks up the flow of the first couple of hours.

Some puzzles require you to be unbearably precise, such as the fan-based one in which you have to guide balloons through a maze avoiding the candles strewn about.

As you're making judgements on the wind power of the blades without a visual marker, it becomes a bit of a guessing game. An inbuilt hint system that shows you the correct position to place the highlighted object is available to alleviate the issue, but it shouldn't be an issue in the first place.

Aside from the truly horrible presentation and moments when the game fails to communicate enough information to you, I Heart Geeks! is a good choice for people looking for something a little more cerebral to play on their commutes.

It's a little too tough for the younger audience it seems to be aimed at, and it doesn't have the charm or addictiveness of a Professor Layton title, but it's worth a look if you're in the mood for a slice of pseudo-scientific puzzle fun.
 
I Heart Geeks!
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 4 January 2012
Infantile visuals and a few issues where the game mishandles information detract from an otherwise decent brainteaser collection for grown-ups
 
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