PlayStation

Kurushi Final: Mental Blocks

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Times are hard for puzzle games. In the high-stress, multi-tasking, Ritalin-craving lifestyle of a majority of game consumers, there is little room for amusement of the purely analytical persuasion. Puzzle game creators do however persevere.

IQ Final is the follow-up to the 1997 PlayStation release Intelligent Qube, and essentially an expanded and refined version of that game. The central concept remains the same: think your way past a moving labyrinth. The player scurries around the narrow platform of the game surface like a mouse with limited demolition capability, carving vacuums and scores out of an approaching tide of cubes, in increasingly more complex configurations.

IQ Final encompasses a greater number of modes than its predecessor. Individual puzzles in all modes are scored on a "par" system, with players challenged to clear all cubes off the platform in the least number of steps. The tutorial-model 100 Attack has, as its name makes clear, 100 puzzles of increasing difficulty and rewards players with new characters and animated solutions, as they match the game's requirements.

The title IQ Final mode is a marathon mode consisting of nine stages, each new stage churning out a greater number of target cubes in different hues like geological samples. A two-player option is available for the Survival mode, which requires one or both players to hold their ground and solve puzzle after puzzle without any break. And in the final Create mode, the developers hand the game over to the players with an editor that allows them to create and play their own puzzles.

The controls and the rules abide by the following: the player can basically move, mark or sink. Every square on the platform's surface can be stood on and marked with a floating cursor. A desired cube can then be "sunk" when (and only when) it has reached the marked spot. Sink a single black "forbidden" cube and one entire row crumbles off the edge of the platform in a penalty that the player quickly learns to dread. Sink one of the Jell-O green "advantage" cubes and a 3x3 square surrounding the sunk cube is automatically marked for immediate or delayed sinking, in a move that forms the kernel of the game's strategic requirements. When all plain and green cubes have been cleared, the forbidden black cubes vanish as well, and the player is ready for the next puzzle. Since one button serves to both mark and sink single cubes, and another to trigger the group-mark zone, the calculations involved can be high wire, so be careful!

The sinking and marking do not however apply to the rotating gate puzzles that appear in the Survival mode. The gates are one-cube wide walls of forbidden cubes with a single opening, and advance down the platform top over bottom. They can come singly or in a series and reward reflex and speed. Since the Survival mode features a mixture of the cube puzzles and the rotating gate as well as a flipping technique for the cube puzzles that adds yet another variable to decimating the cubes, it should be considered a mode for practiced players. However, the speed of the cubes can be set to Low, Normal or High in all modes, allowing for a range of customization. The game is compatible with the Dual Shock Analog Controller, and data can be downloaded to a PocketStation.

Manufacturer's description:

Bringing a new meaning to the phrase 'mental block', Kurushi Final dares you to test your intelligence against a higher power. Nine mind-stretching stages, plus 2-player survival mode, 100 additional challenges and a custom-puzzle generator, Kurushi Final is a supreme test of mental and physical agility.

Features:
Third person perspective.
3D graphics
Cartoon graphics
Fantasy theme.
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