Review: Chime (Xbox 360)February 15th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Xbox 360
It’s rare that any portion of the money we spend on our games goes to anybody but the various companies involved in making and producing the game, so our interest was piqued when Zoe Mode and their non-profit publisher OneBigGame announced Chime, a non-profit game for Xbox Live Arcade. This rhythm puzzle game offers a fun experience for the 400 Microsoft points it costs with a large portion of that money going to charity.
The way Chime works is kind of a mix of Tetris-style blocks, Lumines’ timeline, Qix-style coverage goal, and Groov’s style of interaction with the music that is a simple game to play once you get the hang of it. You are tasked with placing blocks around the level and once you have a 3×3 square called a quad, an overlaying meter starts filling up to signal when it sets. Before that meter fills up, you can build upon the quad by placing full lines of blocks on any of its four sides to extend it for additional points. Once the meter is filled up and the timeline reaches it, the covered area is set into the background and is totaled in the coverage counter in the HUD. Continue creating more quads and the multiplier increases to get more points and more coverage until you reach 100% coverage.
The musical interaction part of Chime involves every part of what you do. Any blocks left behind when a quad is set as coverage become notes on a track loop along with song samples from adding on to quads that results in a somewhat unique version of that song, though it’s not a completely unique song each time. Those leftover blocks do factor into the multiplier since their color gets lighter with each pass of the timeline until they start flashing, which means that you need to get them in a quad or else they disappear and take your multiplier with them when the timeline reaches them. All of the excess blocks disappear when that happens, so there’s a bit of a strategic element to letting your multiplier lapse when you need space to better extend your coverage.
The goal of the timed mode in Chime is definitely to get as many points as possible, but getting coverage doesn’t always lead to that. Getting more quads and covering up more of the level does lead to time bonuses that help give you more time to get more points, so it’s kind of a balancing act between those two aspects of the game to get the highest score. If you happen to reach 100% coverage, the map is wiped so you can start over again with a time bonus so you can get into the range that is usually reserved for figures of speech in sports.
Chime doesn’t offer a ton of modes and songs for the 400 points it costs, which consists of two modes and five songs and levels. The two modes are divided between timed mode’s nine, six, and three minute variants and an unlimited free-play mode that lets you relax and enjoy the music. The songs are all of a similar ambient electronica vibe with tracks from Moby and Orbital and they are used in such a way that it doesn’t feel like there are too few songs to play with. The levels each song is associated with feature different styles of layouts, from a simple rectangle to a smiley face, which changes the difficulty of the songs in the timed mode.
With Lumines and Droplitz being some of the more stylish puzzle games on XBLA, Chime is a bit more muted in terms of the look of the backgrounds and effects in the course of playing a game. It definitely doesn’t try to go overboard and be more of a distraction, so it does a nice job of accentuating the playing field more than anything else.
Chime does a good job of providing a fun and enjoyable experience that may not have a ton of music to choose from, but it offers enough to make the 400 Microsoft points ($5 US) a worthy expense when most of that cost will be going to charity. If you wish to learn a bit more about the charities that Zoe Mode and their OneBigGame are working with, please visit the game’s website.