Title		Plotting
Game Type	Puzzle
Publisher	Ocean, 1990
Players		1 or 2
Compatibility	A500, All With WHDLoad Patch
HD Installable	Yes With Patch
Submission	Steve Baker

During my Amiga playing days, I used to go through phases where I would
hunt out a particular genre ahead of any others. The most enduring of
these was my "puzzle game period" and with "Plotting" being released to
rave reviews, it didn't take me long to decide to buy it.

You take control a cute furball who for reasons that escape me now, has to
work its way through lots of puzzling levels. A level comprises a group of
blocks, each of which is marked with one of four symbols. Furball can
throw a block at the existing pile and any blocks marked with the same
symbol will disappear. Once the block hits a non-matching symbol, the
original block is left in the pile and the new one is returned to Furball.

Blocks can only be thrown from left to right but each level is enclosed in
a wall of sorts and depending on how far this projects, the blocks will
hit the wall and drop down the screen. In this way, blocks can be cleared
from the left or from the top. Later in the game, pipes are included
around the blocks, which will allow your block to go through them by being
bounced off the "roof", but will cause the block to drop if they are hit
from the left.

Each level has a minimum number of blocks that must be cleared to
progress, at which point you start again with a different arrangement of
blocks, walls, roof and pipes. Each level has its own time limit, the
exceeding of which results in your losing the level. If at any stage you
find that there are no blocks available of the type currently held, you
are given a special block that will take on the pattern of the first block
it contacts. These special blocks are limited and can be thought of as
your lives. Run out of them and the level is lost.

That is all there is to it and in principal it seems very straightforward.
However, I found that the game was not as satisfying as I had expected. At
the time I bought "Plotting", I was already quite a seasoned puzzler with
no small amount of skill. The reason I enjoyed puzzle games so much was
that I found it very gratifying to work through the logic of a puzzle to
arrive at the answer. My problem with this game was that I could never
shake the feeling that it was as much about luck as it was about judgement
and this to me, is a fatal flaw in any puzzle game. There is no doubting
that the presentation was very nicely done and it was enjoyable in short
bursts but it never made it on to my "most played" puzzle game list.

Before finishing, I should mention that there are a couple of other
features that improve the value for money factor. Firstly, there is a
two-player game where both parties compete on a split screen against each
other and the time limit. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to play
this mode (just call me Billy-no-mates) but it does give you more variety.
The other thing worth mentioning is the construction kit, which allows you
to devise your own levels. While both are welcome additions, it is still
based around the same game engine and concepts and as such, will fall foul
of the same problems as the single player game.

"Plotting" could certainly not be described as a bad game. It is a very
polished product and may become better the longer you play it. For me,
though, it just didn't hit the spot and although I still have the
occasional blast, it is generally a short-lived flirtation as I again
reach the point where the same problem rears its head. Maybe it's just me.

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