Puzzling Wet Patch

Saw an interesting little movie called Alpha Dog yesterday. It tells the (dramatised, slightly doctored) true story of a small-time drug dealer/wannabe gangsta who kidnaps the kid brother of a former ‘dawg’ who owes money. And it’s got Justin Timberlake in it. Pretty decent film, if I’m being honest. However, the reason I’m telling you all this, believe it or not, is because the Dreamcast should really have featured in Alpha Dog. How so? Well, there are several scenes in the movie that show various characters playing on an Xbox console. Fair enough, I hear you say. But the film is set in November 1999 – a mere two months after the US launch of the Dreamcast! Now, if these hip, young, spliff smokin’, gun totin’ dudes had, say, a DeLorean powered by a nuclear reactor (coupled with a flux capacitor), I’d have believed that they could have feasibly owned an Xbox in late 1999, but seeing as Mr Gates’ pet project was a mere twinkle in his bollock sack at the time, maybe Timberlake et al should have been bashing away (chortle!) at Power Stone or Dynamite Cop instead. Just a thought.

 

Timberlake and chums clearly holding Xbox pads. In 1999. Anachronism?

Anyway, moving on to more pressing matters. I’ve been at it again. Wasting time and money on eBay when I really should have been working. Damn you, eBay Mobile. Alas, bids were placed and auctions were won. The fruit of this latest auction-checking frenzy? Why, its…

Wetrix +

Coming straight from the N64’s top drawer of puzzlers, Wetrix+ is quite a unique game on the Dreamcast in that the water effects are actually quite convincing. I’ll reiterate: The water in Wetrix+ actually looks and behaves…like water! Not blue jelly (Surf Rocket Racers), Blu Tack (Championship Surfer), or glass (Hydro Thunder) – it’s just water! In your face, Wave Race! But wait – water in a puzzle game? Yes. Let me explain.

The aim of Wetrix+ is to construct ‘lakes’ on the little square of floating ‘land’ in the centre of the screen. You do this by dropping clusters of little ‘up’ arrows that magically descent from the ether above. By connecting these clusters or rotating them and then dropping them on the ground, the land raises up in that shape. Still with me? Good. After a while, the arrow clusters make way for water droplets that you can strategically drop into your newly formed dry lakes and they fill up with the wet stuff. The idea is to make as many ‘lakes’ as possible and make 'em as deep as possible before too much water drains off the side of the landmass and fills up the test-tube thingy at the side. It’s a very simple idea and works suprisingly well – until the bombs start falling, ripping gaping holes in the floor and allowing the water to drain off all the quicker. It can get very tense as you battle to repair holes and drop fireballs in order to evaporate water from lakes that either have a hole in the side or are overflowing. Simple, but again – crackingly addictive.

Like I said earlier, Wetrix+ is basically a slightly upgraded port of an N64 game (just plain Wetrix – no ‘+’ sign y’see). The main difference you’ll notice between the two titles is that this Dreamcast incarnation has, as you’d expect, slightly better graphics and crisper sound effects. Gone are the fuzzy old mega-aliased visuals of yore, to be replaced with new ones that have been sharpened up no end; likewise the old music has been put though a head cleaner so it all sounds better than ever. If weird aciiiiiiid trip-out muzak is yer thang, that is. There are plenty of different game modes in Wetrix+ too, ranging from your common or garden ‘Classic’ mode to the challenge modes and the ‘Pro’ game. All of which are basically the same, save for their difficulty and range of different pieces which fall from the sky.

Wetrix+, then. A very simple concept exectuted with great mastery. A top puzzler that is both pleasing to the eye and really quite addictive. Get it in, peeps.

I actually only paid a quid for this copy (in mint condition, I hasted to add), and it even had a copy of Dream On Volume 1 hidden away in the rear of the case…along with a receipt from a French games shop. In case you were wondering, someone paid 5.90 Francs for it back in April 2004. Dreamcast games: a bargain in any currency. 

9 comments:

sir jorge said...

interesting to note, that movie was an episode of unsolved mysteries at one point...well the show came before the movie.

fatherkrishna said...

I got this one but it inly got one play... I couldn't get into it. But you're right it is very easy on the eye...

Caleb said...

Bad form Alpha Dog creators! Come on...

There was a commerical for vitamin water that featured a Dreamcast controller in it about a year back.

I wanted to post it but it was like a two second shot of the controller.

dudex7 said...

How the hell does a Dreamcast controller fit into a vitamin water commercial?

mikey4u1984 said...

That movie reminds way to much of me growing up, good movie though.

fatherkrishna said...

Ooh!Mikey! did you have a naughty past? Tell us more...

mikey4u1984 said...

No, not really but many similarities as in the Rich kids who, tried to prove themselves to us "Street Kids" how bad they could be and on the way causing a lot of unnecessary havoc. Growing up poor and living through hardships was not fun, so I never understood the rich kids needs to try and prove themselves.

Although I made it out fine & dandy! Many of those young adults ended up in very unfortunate situations.

The GagaMan(n) said...

I could never get my head around this puzzler. The game would just keep giving me bombs, which I couldn't do anything with but blow a hole in the ground, or loads of water drops without any ground arrows, ruining the match. I swear I tried to play this multiple times, but every time it went out of it;'s way to make me lose before I can even start. Can't say I liked it.

Anonymous said...

"How the hell does a Dreamcast controller fit into a vitamin water commercial?"

In the commerical there is a young college guy sitting admist a pile of books, old pizza and random college stuff. The premise is that the Vitamin Water is the healthy thing that the kid chooses. (Though at 160 calories a bottle it's not)

The Dreamcast controller was sitting in the pile of college debris. It's obvious that the kid had worked up a thirst playing cool Dreamcast games.