Brainstorm Series: Treasure Chase, the latest release from Storm City Games, is one of the most specifically targeted games I’ve played in my life, which is impressive, considering that I seek out games where characters from mid-90s fighting games fly through the air and shoot each other. It’s a casual game for the Nintendo DS made up entirely of block pushing puzzles. There are no cut scenes, none of the minigames that often pop up in hidden object titles, and almost no pretensions that the game is anything more than what it appears. In a way, it’s nice that the game is so straightforward, but the lack of an interesting concept makes it nearly impossible for Treasure Chase to reach beyond people who already enjoy games about block pushing puzzles.
The gameplay in Treasure Chase, as I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, consists entirely of pushing blocks, and it does nothing that’ll change the mind of any gamer about this limited gameplay mechanic. You’re given a board filled with blocks of various shapes and sizes, which you then must maneuver to create a path for a treasure chest. There are some special blocks that pop up from time to time, including magnets, springs, switches, snakes, and some particularly infuriating ice blocks, but they don’t change the gameplay much at all. Their only purpose is to provide some slightly different challenges and break the monotony that the game seems to develop during long play sessions, which is nice, even if it isn’t entirely successful.
If you do enjoy games about pushing blocks, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth out of Treasure Chase. There are hundreds of puzzles on the cartridge, split up over two gameplay modes. To be fair, the only difference between the two modes is that Quest Mode has an occasional screen of text about some international treasure, while the bonus puzzle mode doesn’t bother with any of that. The two sets of puzzles with identical learning curves is a nice feature, though, as it gives the game a longer lifespan than most casual DS games at the $19.99 price point. There are also a few DSi exclusive features that add a bit of value to the game, though I could do without the game snapping bad photos of me every time that I finish a puzzle. Still, using the camera to read AR codes and download new puzzles is sort of fun, even if it would have been easier on most players if the puzzles had just been in the game automatically.
The graphics and sound in Treasure Chase are just as utilitarian as the game in which they exist. Instead of having a great deal of music, the game instead opts to use a lot ambient noise, such as the sounds of forest creatures or the scraping of a stone block against cement. It isn’t the most exciting set of noises in the world, but it never becomes intrusive or grating. The graphics are similarly inoffensive, with 3D blocks on a neutrally colored board set against a vaguely natural looking background appearing on every screen. They look all right, and they certainly aren’t bad enough that they impede the gameplay in any way. Nothing about them is unique or memorable, though, which could also be said for the game as a whole.
Treasure Chase is a perfectly sufficient game, providing dozens upon dozens of puzzles for gamers who want to relax and shove some blocks around at a fairly reasonable price. If it sounds like something you’d like to play, it does it well enough and with enough content that the game is easy to recommend. However, if you have no interest in block pushing puzzles, regardless of context, this game offers nothing that you’d be remotely interested in. Brainstorm Series: Treasure Chase is admirable in its focus on pleasing fans of block pushing puzzles, but it does nothing to reach beyond appealing to that group of gamers.