Review by Phange
"Free, fun, and even links with the Dreamcast version!"
Sega Swirl is a deceptively simple puzzle game, but its fiendish charm comes from many facets of its design. Probably the most notable asset that Sega Swirl has over its... er... "competition", is the fact that it's entirely free. In fact, it can be found for legal download on numerous sites around the internet. Even better, Sega Swirl is an outstandingly complete game in its own right that would be worthy of purchase. It's a cheap plug for the Dreamcast's swirl symbol no doubt, but it's also a fantastic game that provides a near-endless supply of fun. Best of all, the game's system requires are barebones to say the least (I actually managed to run this game on my Windows 3.1 Packard Bell with NO slowdown!). Overall, Sega has delivered yet another knock-out title, only this time Sega won't make any profit because of it.
Simple but elegant, Sega Swirl makes use of only the bare essentials of PC hardware. Colored swirls fill up the playing field in high-res splendor, and the menus are effective and groovy. It's a great package and actually surpasses what one would expect for a budget title. Of course, this game is for the tightest budget of all so it's amazing that Sega would spend so much time simplifying the unique art style.
Nice pops and rocket launches occasionally accompany a large combo, showing off some interesting particle effects. Don't worry, they won't cause your Intel 386 to overheat and explode.
In another interesting turn of events, the game has music... more than one track, actually. And, even more amazing, they're all good. It's the kind of music you can relax to while enjoying classic gameplay. Sega's always been known for classy music and this game is no exception. Can't say much negative about this game other than the pops can be a bit annoying.
Ah, the most important part of any puzzle game. Sega Swirl is incredibly simple: you have a field filled with swirls of different colors and there's absolutely nothing you can do to change the position of those swirls unless you eliminate previous swirls. If the swirls are adjacent to other swirls of the same color, when eliminated that swirl will eliminate all adjacent colors as far down the field as possible. The larger the elimination, the larger the high score. Initially, you'll think that the best strategy is to simply not eliminate a certain color from the playing field and build up the largest combo possible, but you'll discover that there's a few other factors that may increase your score.
Two or three "large" combos may be better than one super huge combo. Even better, if you manage to eliminate every swirl without having to eliminate a single swirl by itself you'll receive a massive boost in points. The highest score wins.
It's not something that'll hold you down for days on end, but it's always fun to try to beat your previous score. You can play online in one of two ways: standard online mode and e-mail mode. E-mail mode seems to be the only way to play with Dreamcast users, but it does work. Albeit very slowly.
The game's free, so there's absolutely no argument there. It's also a great puzzle game that I'd recommend for purchase. Given the price, you really can't go wrong.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/25/05
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