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ilomilo


Delicious, scrumptious, tasty tea.
How can you argue with reuniting two cute characters so they can have a cup of tea together? Released from Southend Interactive this week, thatís the simple concept behind ilomilo. Basically a 3D puzzle game, you are tasked with bringing Milton and Iiona together on each level of the game. Each character is trapped on the opposite sides of the puzzle and itís up to you to find the correct path to the other character through trial and error. The presentation is oozing with delightful charm and transports the player into a dreamlike landscape thatís likely a snapshot of a childís imagination.

ilomilo puzzle level 4

Controlling either character is a breeze and you can swap between characters at any time by pressing the X button. As you move the characters around, the A button picks up blocks in the flooring and they can be moved to create a bridge to another section of the puzzle. However, puzzles can be rotated around, so you have to find solutions that may be on the other side of the game board. Thereís no jump button or flying capabilities inherent to the characters, so you also have to rely on special cubes that act as longer walkways or lifts to help Milton and Ilona reach new areas. The characters can also exchange these special cubes which can increase the number of solutions for any given puzzle. Finally, you can use the native life in the puzzles to help your characterís get around as well; riding on the back of a horse-like creature for instance.

Unfortunately, the game can be extremely difficult to solve if you arenít good at puzzles. Forcing the player to use trial and error often leads to some controller throwing moments. Thereís also limited help online right now because the game is so new. Southend included a hint system in the game, but the hints are often too vague to make a difference. Thereís also a technical bug that causes the game to stutter when the help function is used. Iíve heard reports of it causing complete freezes as well, but I didnít experience that during my testing. If you get tired of just solving puzzles, take a look around the levels for collectible items like records and photographs. Slightly similar to Braid, the photographs narrate a side story and the records unlock music. Thereís also a mini-game to unlock, but the design & gameplay didnít appeal to me.

ilomilo puzzle chapter 3

While the game is billed has having multiplayer, itís definitely off target and disappointing. You canít play at the same time, but rather each player is controlling either Milton or Ilona; one at a time. Technically, you could just toss the controller over to your friend during single player and accomplish the exact same thing. Itís a shame that SouthEnd Interactive didnít include online support for this or even a split screen mode. It would have been more interesting having one player solve their portion of the puzzle while the other searched for collectibles and forcing them to switch continually. Beyond multiplayer, there are also 12 achievements to earn as you would expect. You can earn about half of them for simple playing through the entire game while the rest are awarded for collecting safkas / eggs or scoring points in the mini-game. Itís not the most creative set that Iíve seen but it will satisfy the achievement hunter for a couple days.

Graphics

If Little Big Planet and Katamari Damacy had a gaming love child, put it up for adoption and was brought up under the supervision of Willy Wonka; that would accurate depict the visual styling of ilomilo. The cute, 3-dimensional puzzles are typically entrenched in a giant world of fuzzy characters and dreamlike, whimsical environments. The game is extremely colorful, but in a muted style that isnít overbearing in the slightest. In addition, the world is always moving and requires your constant supervision to make sure that everything is rotating correctly and going to plan. The game runs smoothly on the Xbox 360 and will charm the pants off even the most anti-video game Grinch.

ilomilo puzzle chapter 2

Audio

Similar to the visual style, the music is light, bouncy and full of whimsy. It matches the fairy tale presentation and sounds like something you would hear at a folk concert with people that didnít know how to play their instruments very well. Yet, itís never annoying and often delightful when trying to determine how to reunite the two characters yet again. The sound effects are also just as childlike and friendly.

Conclusion

Ilomilo is an incredibly charming puzzle game that will likely be too frustrating for some players and the lack of a fully featured multiplayer mode decreases the replay value dramatically. Still, the multitude of levels in the game and the amount of collectables (photographs, records, etcÖ) to find does help alleviate that concern and gives you several hours of playtime. At $10, ilomilo is definitely priced correctly for the Xbox Live Marketplace. Download ilomilo if you are a fan of logic puzzles (especially 3-dimensional ones) or you are simply looking for a well-made puzzle game to tackle next.



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