Circles, Circles, Circles is the second mini from Indian developers GameShastra Studios, the team behind block-moving puzzler D-Cube Planet, also reviewed this week. Circles, Circles, Circles is a very different animal indeed though, being a straight-up numerical puzzle game.
If even the very words ‘number puzzle’ make you feel a bit queasy, don’t worry! Anything involving numbers and sums and stuff usually makes me run away screaming, so if someone so number-puzzle phobic can get to grips with the gameplay and really enjoy it, then anyone can!
The bright shiny menu screen is very polished and inviting, as is the chilled-out background music. From the main menu you can either start a new game or load up your previous progress from one of the four save game slots via the Load screen.
The Help option which can also be accessed from the main menu is very handy indeed, and a great way to learn the basics. Essentially all you need to know is that the object of the game is to either capture the gold zero (or zeros) by surrounding it with your blue circles, or to eliminate all of the yellow circles on the board. You will be awarded a gold medal if you either destroy all the yellow circles or capture the gold zero, or a silver medal if you don’t have enough blue circles left to capture the gold zero.
From the screenshots you’ll notice that all of the circles have numbers on them. When you rotate the purple ring, by pressing either L or R, the colour with the highest score (obtained by adding up all the numbers on the circles) will eliminate the one with the lowest. That’s where the strategic thinking comes in, adding up your circle tally before rotating the ring.
As you can only control rings with blue circles on them, much of the gameplay involves planning how to get your blue circles onto rings full of yellow ones without losing too many of your own circles. Sometimes you might have to sacrifice one of your lower numbered circles simply to get in amongst the yellows and get control of the ring. The more you play, the more you’ll discover different ways to achieve your ultimate goal.
Positive and negative numerical power-ups also appear in some of the rings. Their value is applied to each of the circles when you rotate the ring, no matter the colour, so for example if there are 3 blue circles numbered 1, and 1 yellow circle numbered 0, and the centre power up is +1, then the value of all the blue circles will increase to 2 each, and the yellow circle will increase to 1.
When you’ve won a level, you’ll see a screen with your current tally of gold and silver coins and how many levels you’ve completed so far. Each of the three difficulty settings (Easy, Medium and Hard) has 40 levels to complete, making 120 levels in total. The higher up you go, the gameplay gets more complicated and you’ll find that there are more and more gold zeros added for you to capture per level, making it that much harder to win.
The overall presentation is simple but effective. The sound effects really add to the addictive quality of the gameplay. The whooshing sound when you rotate the rings is actually very satisfying, for example. The graphics are bright and clear, with nothing getting in the way of the purity of the gameplay.
Although Circles, Circles, Circles, and D-Cubed Planet are very different games, they are very similar in terms of the fact that what you see is what you get, with both games relying on pure gameplay alone. I think Circles, Circles, Circles has the slight edge though, as I think it will take longer to get bored with it, and at the moment there’s only one similar mini, Sudoku to satisfy number puzzle fans. If numbers are your thing then this is one to get.