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For: iPhone

Bright idea

Product: Shibuya | Developer: Nevercenter | Publisher: Full Fat | Format: iPhone | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
Shibuya iPhone, thumbnail 1
Wandering through Tokyo’s Shibuya ward at night is something of a sensory overload the first time you experience it.

While the onslaught of light and sound can prove overwhelming at first, you soon slip into the district’s unique groove. It’s an oddly warm, comforting feeling.

It's fitting that developer Nevercenter chose to name its distinct, brightly coloured puzzle game after the noted ward, which has become my favourite audio-visual brain tickler since Sigma.

Colour coordination

Shibuya applies a fresh twist to matching coloured blocks that involves wrapping you up in a hypnotic bubble of light and sound.

It doesn’t quite play like any other puzzler, though, and that makes it at first a little overwhelming. Blocks drop from the top of the screen, but they fall in a regular pattern, one after the other. They also don’t have a colour until you assign them one.

This is achieved by touching them, with the particular colour determined by an indicator at the top-left of the screen. This shows you the next five (unalterable) colours available, which allows you to plan which blocks to fill with which colour.

The idea is to stack clusters of two or more of any single colour together, which can then be removed from the screen with a tap. If you can stack multiple clusters, and remove them all with a swift series of taps, you get bonus combo points and awards.

Sounds great

It’s this award system that drives progress. While there are two main modes – Endless and the time-limited Quickplay – your choice is dictated by your desire to reach the next level. It’s not really the open choice you might think.

Almost as in a role-playing game, you level-up by meeting four specific requirements. These includes reaching a certain score, surviving a certain amount of time, or scoring a certain length of combo - split between both modes.

It’s a unique approach and it forces you to play the whole game rather than just sticking with the mode with which you’re most comfortable.

Also worthy of particular praise is the soundtrack, which is made up of five licensed tracks from chillwave artist Millionyoung. His laidback, atmospheric tunes are a welcome departure from the driving techno that has accompanied neon-drenched puzzlers since Lumines.

While Shibuya has a number of familiar elements, it twists the typical block-matching puzzler formula enough to make it feel fresh and new. Like the district it’s named after, you’re sure to lose yourself in it.
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 28 September 2010
Shibuya is a fresh take on the block-dropping puzzler complete with neat progression system and excellent soundtrack
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