Agggh! I hate puzzles that I can't sort out and I've met one in Clockwiser. You see, there are these little bombs that explode once they are dropped onto another little bomb or any surface, setting off a chain reaction with anymore bombs in the immediate vicinity. I'm sitting in front of a screen full of them at the moment and I cannot figure out a way of leaving just one, unexploded, in the middle of the bottom of the screen. And that's what I have to do if I want to get any further in this game.
Clockwiser is the first original puzzle game available for the CD32. It's an object motion and time game, where you have to match the pattern of objects shown in a box on the right-hand side of the screen by moving in the box on the left-hand side. Each screen has a variety of blocks, known as elements. Of these, only the metallic ones cannot be moved or destroyed. These form platforms and walls which usually provide stumbling blocks that prevent you from simply moving all the other elements into place.
The other elements are as follows: anti gravity blocks; which can be moved horizontally and allow other elements to float above them. Brick blocks; which are not sensitive to gravity and can be moved in any direction. Diamonds; which are highly unstable and will multiply if dropped onto another surface. Transporters; which will transport elements that are dropped onto them to the location of another transport pod. Bombs; which are round and black and will destroy anything they land on. Sandstones; which are like metallic blocks but can be destroyed by bombs. And finally gravity blocks; the most basic and useless of the lot of them. They come in a variety of colours and generally make your life a misery.
And so to the complicated bit. The reason the game is called Clockwiser, is that you move all of the blocks around in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation. And there are rules to be obeyed. You cannot select sandstone or metal blocks because they can't move.
You also need to be careful about moving diamonds and bombs. If you inadvertently drop a diamond you will get several more for your trouble. Likewise, if you drop a bomb you will not only waste it, you may ruin your chances of completing the screen. The joypad is a bit cumbersome here, but luckily there is an option to use a mouse.
There is a time limit set for each puzzle and this will vary according to the difficulty level. This is a good way of judging how many moves you have to make to complete a screen. Two minutes means that it's quite complicated. Three Seconds (I joke not) invariably means that there is only one or two moves. The clock doesn't start ticking down until you've actually started rotating some blocks, so there is plenty of time to logically plan your moves before you start.
Graphically, Clockwiser looks better than the average puzzle game, and the different types of block are easy to see. The presentation is good and there are three difficulty modes, all designed to have you pulling your hair out. The first 12 or so screens are designed to show you the ropes so you're not thrown in at the deep end straight away.
The music quality is good but I found the tunes themselves really annoying after a while.
Clockwiser is certainly a well thought out and reasonably original puzzle game. Its frustration factor is high, but there is a stop button that restarts each scenario without having to go back to the beginning, which is really handy. What's really welcome is the fact that on completing each screen you get a password, which allows you to go back to the game and pick up where you left off.
I'm not a puzzle game fanatic. The only one I've ever gone back to is Tetris, but I like Clockwiser. Although it doesn't have that "I'm going back to beat the last high score" competitive quality about it, it does make you think a lot, even while you're not -playing, about how to solve the latest puzzle it's thrown up. In fact, you can even create your own puzzles and let friends tear their hair out trying to solve them. Unfortunately though you can't save them on the CD32.
I'm used to PD puzzles on the Amiga, which come cheap, so paying for a full price one seems a bit much. But then again, for a game with Clockwiser's quality finish, that you can play whenever you feel it on a machine that doesn't have much else to offer in the way of puzzles, it could just be worth it. Anyway, back to those bombs.