Puzzle games are probably the most “hit-or-miss” genre in video games. There are great titles like Puzzle Fighter and Lumines. They stick out of the mass of similar titles by incorporating a great multiplayer system, or incredible musical sequences, or epic scrambles to avoid reaching the top line. But most puzzle games? They’re crappy. Like Cradle of Rome. Yes, Cradle is the epitome of a game that makes no effort to distinguish itself from every other game in the world. And that’s all there is in this puzzle game. Some puzzles.
There are lots of puzzle games out there. Cradle falls into that group where there are a bunch of pieces gridded off. You swap adjacent pieces. Three pieces end up in a row (or don’t). The pieces lined up in a row explode. More pieces shift down, and fall from the top. And you have to explode X pieces to win. Pieces, pieces pieces. That’s all there is in this game. There is no trace of uniqueness in the game. There is no attempt to distinguish itself via graphics. There is no amusing sense of urgency. There are no adorable characters. There isn’t even an explanation as to what the point of the game is. Hell, the game goes straight from the menu to the puzzles! It’s practically skeletal! The game “tries” to differentiate itself by using different types of grids, in various shapes and patterns…but, obviously, this doesn’t really do much. I mean…having a seven-by-nine grid AND a twelve-by-ten doesn’t make this any different from a game that only has eight-by-eight.
The game doesn’t do anything outside of this. It doesn’t have the flashy graphics of a Hexic HD or Puzzle Fighter. It doesn’t have the slick soundtrack you get from games like Lumines. It has a few different pieces that slide down and disappear, and it has midis playing in the meantime. Again, there’s just nothing to this game.
I can’t really recommend this game to anyone. Even at the budget price of $20, this game isn’t good. It doesn’t have good gameplay, and there’s nothing else there to redeem it. Even though it’s cheap, there are plenty of better puzzle game options available on the DS. Two word explanation: look elsewhere.