|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SlapDash Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
for the 360
by Jonathan Marx
TiQal is a block puzzler for the Xbox 360 that takes players through the lush jungles, step pyramids, and mystical world of ancient Mesoamerica. An amalgam of many other classics of the genre; TiQal combines classic block busting goodness with an adventure that helps to heighten the sense of accomplishment. Sadly, the story component doesn't nearly live up to that of Puzzle Quest or even Jewel Quest, and it only becomes challenging at the game's bitter end. Thankfully, the game is filled with sharp graphics, intriguing sounds, interesting historical facts, potent power-ups, and a game mechanic that is sure to please puzzle fans of all walks.
When you fire up the single player or co-op adventure, you will set off on a quest as a simple Mayan tribesman seeking to safeguard your village. After proving yourself worthy of the task, you will embark upon a journey throughout the Yucatan visiting sacred totems and towering pyramids. Along the way you will collect a series of artifacts in the remotest corners of the jungle and bring them as offerings to the gods at each of the six pyramid temples. This sounds intriguing, and it is a wonderful setting, but the storyline doesn't flesh out your character's motivations or sufficiently detail why the quest is so important. It's as if you're just on a pretty walk through the wilds. A few twists in the plot and some dangerous moments would have gone a long way to making the experience far richer. Nevertheless, TiQal does a good enough job of establishing the setting that puzzle-hounds will enjoy the campaign. I especially liked the historical tidbits that graced the screen between levels. I learned some interesting facts, and it enhanced the overall feeling.
Gameplay consists of matching colored blocks of various shapes. If you are able to link four blocks of the same color together, they will explode in a few seconds and increase your score. By correctly placing more blocks on top of the original set before they explode, you will be able to string together larger point combinations. You have to be careful not to let the blocks get too high though, as towers that are too tall will cause you to "foul," and as a result you will lose a life. However, the larger the tower of matching blocks you create the more points you will accrue, and the better, more potent the power-ups that are released will be. Therefore, it's worth the risk because accumulating points and using solid power-ups is the object of the game.
Power-ups are collected by positioning the block dropping apparatus in the path of the rising power-up icon. As you progress through the game, you will not only unlock new block types, but also a series of evermore potent power-ups that prove decisive in blasting through the stages. Power-ups have authentic names such as "Gift of Tohili" or "Star of Xolotl" and are very important to your survival and point total. Power-up effects vary greatly. Some of the power-ups break up blocks with a fire blast; others cause the advancing wall to retreat; some shoot forth a row-smashing projectile or launch a set of mighty spears; and still others change the disparate colors of a large section of blocks into one matching color. In addition to the power-ups, there are also little hearts that float up called Hearts of Ix Chel. If you collect twenty of them, you will get a free life. Similar to the increased potency of power-ups, the larger the column that you destroy is, the more hearts that will be released.