EP Sokoban Catzzles Review

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Title: EP Sokoban Catzzles
Developer: EP Games
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 83 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

We’ve done a few reviews on Free-to-Play games in the past.  Just last month, we did a review on Deadman’s Cross, a free-to-play game from Square Enix that was originally on the Mobile platforms.  The downers we noted with that, though, were the micro-transactions for the Deadman Coins, needing you to either shell out cash on the game or only playing it for a few minutes a day, which was definitely a downer point if you really get into the system and want to do long gaming sessions.

One thing we sometimes forget, though, is that these games are also around on PlayStation Mobile.  While those aren’t as heavy as the ones on the Vita as native games, more of them are showing up, as time goes by.  Just recently, I was approached by a PlayStation Mobile developer for one of their games, that just happened to also be free-to-play.

Taking a look at the PS Mobile library, we did a review on Pop Bug Zap awhile back, which was a free-to-play game with huge technical issues.  As we go into this new review, we went looking for these types of things, with the platform in mind.  Were we surprised, or is this another micro-transaction filled game or a technical screwup?  Here is our official review of EP Sokoban Catzzles.

Story

Due to this game not having any sort of plot or story, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

EP Sokoban Catzzles is a grid-based puzzle game.  As you go through the game in a very Angry Bird-like sense, you will be moving cats around a grid to move yarn balls into locations in the least amount of moves possible to gain points to unlock further stages as well as other unlockable items to customize the looks of your game.

The game is set in environments and stages.  There are a certain number of stages per environment, from a Park all the way to a Castle.  Over the course of the entire game, you will be encountering over a dozen different environments, which mostly affect the background of the stages that you’re going through.  Otherwise, you will be doing similar things throughout each stage whether you’re close to the beginning of the game or closer to the end of the game.

Going into a stage takes you to an overhead grid that shows a cat (you), balls of yarn, and circles that the yarn balls need to go into.  The idea of the game is to move from square to square and move so there is a ball of yawn in every circle for the stage to end.  You will get stars when you beat a stage, which are used to unlock new stages as well as customization options for your cat and the yarn.

The goal of each stage is to get 3 stars for the least amount of moves possible.  These moves are not counted with you moving, but rather the yarn moving.  You could move back and forth a few dozen times and then push a ball of yawn once and it would still only count as a single turn.  You can also easily go back 1 or 10 moves with the buttons if you do something and wish to undo it without completely restarting the stage.  This is where the strategy and thinking comes into play, so you can do the least amount of moves as possible.

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This is the biggest meat of the game and it also gets difficult quickly.  The first few stages will be very easy to figure out, but even by the 18th stage, thing will get really hard and you may get stuck on stages for up to 20-30 minutes if not more.  There were many times from early on that I had to stop and think for quite some time on stages.  Thankfully, getting stars can unlock multiple stages.  So, if you get stuck on one, you can just go onto one of the next ones to see if you have better luck there.

The one thing you’ll wish to know about this free-to-play game is Micro-Transactions.  Thankfully, the developer put these purchases into the game well.  There are plenty of Micro-Transactions but not one single purchase is something you need to play the game.  There is a shop in the game where you can unlock different cats, necklace accessories, and yarn balls.  A lot of these are color swaps.

To buy these, you can achieve certain star numbers, like 300, 1000, or something else.  Or, you can buy them with real money via PSN.  The good thing is that, while it will take time to get these stars built up, there aren’t any purchases that are required and if you play through the entire game, you will unlock all of them by the time you finish the game.

Despite being free, the game also has a lot of content to be had.  Across all of the different areas you can play through, there are 1000 stages for you to experience.  While each of these stages can only take about 20-30 seconds to do, there’s a lot for you to do.  With that info, it should take you several hours to beat this game, with the amount of content plus the amount of thinking you will be doing as you play through the game.

Controls

The controls for this game are pretty simple to get a handle on, though a lot of it isn’t really explained to you.  First of all, there are touch controls as well as button controls.  Also to be noted is that Catzzles can be played on both the PS Vita and the PlayStation TV.  So, you can play the game on the go or on the big screen.

Navigating the menus is done with both the touch screen and the buttons.  You can tap on options to go into another menu or a stage.  You can also use the D-Pad to cycle options and the X button to select options until you get into a stage.  Stages are similar but different.  You can tap on a square to move to that square.  You can also use the D-Pad, Left Analog Stick, or Right Analog Stick to move around.  In my opinion, the button controls are a little more precise for this.

You can also use a few of the other buttons in stages.  The Circle button is used to undo your last move and the Triangle button is used to undo the last 10 moves.  Plus, the start button can pause the game and pull up the menu to resume, Save, or restart the current stage.

Presentation

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The presentation of the game has its ups and downs.  There aren’t as many issues with this as there are in some PlayStation Mobile games, but there are a few hiccups.  First of all, the visual presentation is done well and is a bit unique.  First of all, the 3D renders of the cats and yarn are done mostly well.  There are a few jagged edges here and there, but when you’re in the middle of a stage, you won’t even be able to tell they’re there.

The biggest downfalls are the initial load times and the sound.  First of all, you’re going to have a long load time when you first start up the game.  While loading stages once you get it loaded goes very well, the initial load time is easily 30-40 seconds, if not more.

The other hiccup in the presentation is the sound, specifically the music.  When you play through a stage, there will be background music.  However, the music doesn’t loop.  In some stages, you won’t even notice because of how short some of them are.  But if you get stuck, you’ll notice that, after a couple minutes, the music will mute in certain stages.  You’ll have to pause the game to restart the track.

*Note that I have contacted the developer about this music issue and it should be fixed in the game’s next update.

Otherwise, the game plays well.  There aren’t any frame issues or lag issues.  Just the initial load time and music issues.

Summary

EP Sokoban Catzzles is a cute puzzle game for cat-lovers to think about.  On the downside, the music doesn’t loop and will abruptly mute in some stages, and the initial load time is very long.  Outside of this, is a difficultly simple puzzle game that has a lot of content and isn’t pushy about it’s micro-transactions.

8/10

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