It’s Kerplunk meets Tetris. It’s a puzzle game that will have mice squeaking under the pressure and your eyes screaming out for the Optrex. It’s another load of balls. It’s Pick ‘n’ Pile!
Pick ‘n’ Pile is the name, piling and picking’s the game. Three different coloured balls drop from the skies and the aim is to stack them into similarly hued piles. Everything on screen can be picked with a mouse click and moved into a pile with a second click.
Once they are neatly stacked the balls will disappear, as long as the pile touches the floor and there’s nothing blocking the top. Each screen has a set number of balls, blocks and various other bits that drop at the start of the game. You must clear the screen of spheres before the time runs out. So, as soon as it starts to rain down with balls, move the mouse into overdrive and get stacking.
The problem with balls...
The first problem pickers encounter is the balls, being spheres of course they don’t just stand around on top of each other but do their darnedest to roll of. If they are to stay in a stack long enough to vanish they must be supported either by other balls or by the building blcoks that fell down with the spheres. Using the blocks, chutes can be built which allow faster clearance and enable the maximum points potential to be wrung from each level.
Naturally it wouldn’t be much fun just clearing screen after screen of balls, so those cunning French chappies have dreamed up millions of ways to make life sheer hell! Firstly there are flowerpots that refuse to be budged and small fires that grow into stack-stifling infernos. Nastiest of all, though, are the time demons, because when they touch the floor time passes twice as fast as normal – which isn’t good news.
Amuse, frustrate and bemuse
Puzzle games are odd beasts, amusing by frustrating and bemusing. Their appeal lies in throwing new, more complex, permutations of the original formula out as the levels progress. Clipping seconds off the time limit is no substitute and yet that is all Pick ‘n’ Pile seems to offer in the later – nearly impossible – stages.
Diamonds are a game’s best friend
On the positive side P’n’P is designed to send hi-score freaks mad with points-collecting avarice. Bonus-multiplying wild-card pieces litter the spherical rain, as do fat lumps of pure score just waiting to be collected. Use these well and, as your stack disappears, a diamond replaces it. For every twenty gems collected, players get masses of points and another life.
Manipulating the stacks while under pressure from the clock, though, is monstrously tough. Screen follows screen, introducing various new nasties plus different designs for both background and balls. Yet there is essentially a lack of variety. Once you have mastered the art of containing time demons and fires, there is only the clock to beat.
P’n’P guarantees, initially, high-speed mouse action as you try to predict what moving a ball from the base of that pile will do for point scoring opportunities. Yet as levels progress it’s the clock’s miserly nature and the abundance of spheres that make life harder.