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For: Mobile

Got your numba

Product: Numba | Publisher: Hands-On Entertainment | Developer: Cobra Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Casual, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 198KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
Numba Mobile, thumbnail 1
Many of those who have left the world of education, those working stiffs – video game reviewers included – often rejoice at having been able to leave the tiresome subject of maths behind. However, this carefree attitude comes at a cost. It is they who, upon reaching the checkout, haven't managed to work out how much change they need. It is they who are left forever fumbling in wallets and pockets as the granny behind, fully clued into the brain training craze, loudly tuts.

Yes, we are all frequently told that our brains atrophy without rigorous use, and while Numba may not appear to be such a challenging game at first sight, it is a little more mathematically inclined that you might expect.

From the screens, you may assume rightly that it is another tile-matching game. For the first few minutes of play, you may well spend your time matching up '1's '2's and so on, wondering exactly why a number is any better than a simple coloured square. However, as you begin to delve a little further into the game, all becomes (sort of) clear.

See, Numba is much more about creating sequences than any sort of traditional matching. Adjacent tiles can be linked as a series, a reverse series, a doubling series or an incremental series (eg 1-5-9 etc). The in-game help also says there are lots more potential sequences to find, but exactly what else there could be is beyond us. Answers on a number-themed postcard.

There are two main game modes. The first, Classic, sees you trying to make the aforementioned sorts of sequences within a filled grid of number tiles. It's level-based, and you need to gain a certain number of points within a time limit in each level. New levels introduce new numbers, making it possible to rack up more impressive combos, but harder to actually find them.

You might expect this to be the main game mode, but it's limited somewhat by the fact that once you lose a level, you need to start from the beginning. So, while progress may be rewarding, with the reaching of a new level imbued with a smug glow of self-satisfaction, it's also rather frustrating. Even if no saving was introduced, some difficulty levels would have been appreciated, as even the early levels have fairly strict time limits.

The second mode is Puzzle, which is again level-based, but progress is thankfully saved here. This mode is much more a thinking gamer's bag than a mad finger-rush, and there's no time limit. Instead, it relies on you using your brain power.

There's a number of special blocks in this mode, too, such as tiles that change their number with each turn and others that disappear when they hit the bottom of the grid. Furthermore, the grid generally won't be full here, so the effects of gravity become more of an issue.

Thankfully, there are enough levels on offer in the Puzzle option for it to grasp the sceptre as main game mode that the Classic counterpart misses. You're more likely to end up spending most of your time on the puzzles, coming back to the Classic mode when a particular puzzle gets a bit too tough.

For a game that at first appears little more than a 'less cute' version of the classic match-three puzzler, a Diamond Detective without the shine, Numba ends up with a conciliatory doffing of the cap from us. Sure, those number tiles aren't as cute as Chuzzles, but if you're looking to give your brain as much as a workout as your fingers, Numba stacks up.
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 18 April 2008
Lacks the sheen of some of its rivals, but Numba does manage to offer a more developed brain-teasing element that most other matching puzzlers can muster
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