The Game Boy was made for games like Guru Logic Champ. Only got 10 minutes to spare while waiting for a bus (ok, in the UK it’s unlikely to be anything less than half an hour, but use your imagination)? Want something to do in between your favourite slice of soap and the news/weather? Do short slots of time remain unused throughout the day, purely due to lack of anything to do? Guru Logic Champ is the answer. At least it would be, if it were easily obtainable. Released in November 2001, its creator, Compile, has since been swallowed by Aiky, who have done the service of releasing it on mobile phone formats. Tracking down this unusual puzzle game on the GBA might not be straightforward, but will definitely be worth it.
If a piece is placed wrongly, it can be retrieved at any later stage as long is it’s still in the immediate line of sight of the piece cannon. This is essential to the game, since often fired pieces must be used to create blocks for further pieces and then the original retrieved to be placed elsewhere. Levels range from placing a small number of pieces on the board, up to huge place-a-thons. Alarmingly, it’s often the puzzles with small numbers of white targets that cause the most consternation. The well thought out nature of the puzzles makes them a pleasure to play at either end of the spectrum – the need to bash the GBA against the floor might occasionally arise, but come back to the same puzzle a bit later and suddenly it can be simple. Even if you do get stuck on a particular level for a while, there are hundreds of other levels to get going on and longevity is assured.
The game displays a certain degree of logic in that if there is only one sensible option at a certain stage, rotating the screen to the relevant angle will often jump the cannon to the correct point ready for firing. This very welcome feature streamlines the play experience.
Whilst there is no time limit, there is a time recorded for each completed level – returning to old completed puzzles might see an improvement in time taken, but this is not always a given. A story merges the levels into a barely coherent plot – an amazing tale of good versus evil, cars versus dandruff, burnt fish versus an extractor fan that needs mending and a hamster in very little peril. At the end of each phase of varying numbers of levels, the Champs succeed in rescuing whatever is in need of rescuing. Rest easy knowing the world is a safer place.
A single cartridge battle mode links up GBAs for a fierce race to complete the puzzle, although it would have been gratifying to see just how far behind the losers were rather than just the “Lose” that is splatted across the screen.
Games don’t come much more pick-up-and-playable than this. The simple controls, functional graphics, mad but short cutscenes and brain-stretching gameplay all combine to make an essential GBA puzzle game. Additionally the gameplay breaks through traditional age and sex boundaries, with almost everyone taking an interest. The well varied difficulty level also helps retain the interest of all types of players. Stuck on a level? Just try the next one - no need to be demoralised. Sailing through some levels with relative ease feels great but just when a system is dreamt up for solving the puzzles, another level comes along and trashes whatever method was being used. Sometimes experimentation and lateral thinking must go hand in hand to avoid choosing that wig colour to replace the torn out hair. Yes, Guru Logic Champ is occasionally infuriating, but it’s always addictive enough to keep you coming back for more.
for a 10 level PC demo of this game (zipped).
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