Title           Atomino
Game Type       Puzzle
Publisher       Psygnosis
Players         1
Compatibility   Works on all chipsets. (1 MB Required)
HD Installable  Yes
Submission      Nathan Wain Profiled Reviewer

Atomino is a puzzle-game, kind of loosely based on the jigsaw puzzle
concept, except it can be completed with different arrangements of the
pieces (atoms). The game is played against the clock, with other
constraints added later to ramp up the difficulty.

This game reminds me of Pipe Dream / Pipemania. It also has a little
taste of Tetris in there, so might also appeal to fans of the many
Tetris/Jewel/Puyo-puyo games out there too.

The basic goal is to build the required number of Atoms, initially
on a clean board. The number and size of the required atoms increase
on later levels, as do elements on the board that limit where you can
build. Pressure to complete the task is in the form of the stack of
atoms you are supplied with. New atoms are regularly added to this
stack, so if you don't use them quick enough the stack fills up and
the game ends.

Works on any 1 Meg Amiga, with either keyboard or joystick.

Code lookup in the manual. At the end of the first completed
level you be required to refer to the manual and enter a code
to continue. Only happens the first game, so I don't consider
it too intrusive.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 112Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Apollo
4040 daughter board (68040 at 40MHz, with SCSI and 96Meg of local RAM),
PicassoIV Graphics Card, VLab video-digitiser, Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, 2
internal floppy-drives, Supra 14.4k Modem, Viewsonic E70 17" SVGA monitor.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD, Toshiba
16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 Multisync
monitor. (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU without FPU)

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD, GVP
Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI),
additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor.

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 4Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 120 Meg Quantum 2.5" HDD, GVP
Ram expansion board (2 SIMM slots and 68882 FPU slot only), additional
floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, Thompson PAL monitor.

A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive,
Thompson PAL monitor.

(Standard Amiga's seemed fine. The 030+fastram machines needed some
simple degrading to fix minor sound issues. The 040 gave some issues,
needing serious software degrading and booting with no startup.)

This game has the usual Graphic and Sound polish I'd expect from a
Psygnosis release. It looks stylish, not just functional. There is good
use of colour to distinguish the various types of atom. The sounds are
nice, suit the game well, and are backed up by an even better soundtrack.

These design elements add real polish to what is otherwise a rather simple
puzzle game. The control method is well designed - not at all awkward or
over-sensitive. Puzzle games where you die because of awkward controls
are just plain annoying.

The initial loading of the game from floppy does take some time.
A side-effect of it being a standard AmigaDOS disk, with lots of data
files. If installed on to the Hard-Drive it loads much, much quicker, but
I haven't found this game to be particularly tolerant of some nonstandard
workbenches. Be prepared to be booting from no startup if you've spent
some time 'enhancing' yours.

The object of the game is to form molecules of a certain size. A molecule
is comprised of several atoms, and is considered 'complete' when every
atoms' electrons are paired with those of its neighbours. The player is
given atoms with a varying number of electrons, which determines how many
atoms it must have next to it to be complete. (The electrons rotate around
the nucleus, so there is flexibility in the positioning of other atoms.)

The game is easy to get into. Atoms can be placed anywhere on the board,
and easily replaced. The basic gameplay is soon grasped, and then its
addictive nature takes hold. Constraints and new elements are introduced
as the game progresses to add interest and challenge.

Bonus maps appear every few levels to break the tension. They also force a
change in mental tack, as the they impose severe restrictions on atom
placement. Tricks like placing un-needed atoms off to the side won't work
here. And on completing every other bonus level a password is awarded, so
you can get straight into the real mental athletics the next time.

The difficulty-curve of Atomino is nice. No sudden jumps in gameplay
complexity or restrictions, so it's usually possible to get a little
further the next time you play. While the regular appearance of bonus
levels and new game elements keep up the interest, and stops it feeling
like a constant slog to advance. (The occasional new element can make you
stop for a second and wonder what the heck to do next, but this is what
makes a puzzle game fun, and keeps you on your toes.)

The basic free-form nature of the arrangements the player can create is
nice. Players can create the molecules however they like, and can try for
point bonuses by constructing atoms larger than required. The goals are
dictated by the game, but the path to them is largely up to the player.

As a result it's one of those puzzle-games that really keeps your mind
working. The game doesn't continually prod you in the right direction,
it's entirely up to you to decide the best arrangement, you're just
encouraged to do it quickly. And if the main goal is proving a bit
challenging, you can buy some time by creating little 'junk' atoms off in
a corner. They don't contribute to the level completion, but they keep the
stack empty, and add to the score. Incomplete molecules subtract from the
score at the end of the level, so efficient use of your resources is

I'm not quite sure what type of gamer I would recommend this title to. I'm
not a huge fan of the puzzle genre, yet this title grabbed me by the
collar and told me in no uncertain terms that I would be addicted. And
gosh darn it, I was! If you like Tetris, Jewel, Puyo-Puyo, or Pipe Dream,
almost certainly this will be your cup of tea. If you've had a vague
interest in them at some point, you might find yourself unexpectedly
suprised at the addictive qualities contained in one small Atomino disk.

A highly playable, and even original puzzle game. Simple to learn the
basics, but with enough subtle complexity and continual gameplay tweaks to
keep it interesting. An entertaining title that keeps you thinking.

Incidently, there is a C64 version that I'm aware of. Possibly there are
other ports too, but I would find it hard to believe that any of them
could beat what has been achieved on the Amiga. The gameplay cannot be
faulted, and the exceptional presentation raises it to a higher level

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