Hazumi, from Eyecancer Games and Gamelion Studios, is a 3DS title revolving around a bouncing ball. It’s a simple concept in gameplay which requires something more in order to keep the player engaged throughout the entirety of the game. Does Hazumi manage to do this, making it a title worth your time?
Visuals – 8.25/10
The visuals, much like the gameplay, are simple. A ball bounces all over the level, with the player simply directing which direction it heads. There are colored glass blocks to be broken, placed across each level, outlined by “hard” blocks that cannot be broken. As the player progresses, more types of blocks are added; each new addition doesn’t add too much in visual flare, other than a logo or picture, indicating what the new block does.
Hazumi is nothing amazing to look at, but what really impressed me were all the small touches incorporated into the game. These additions really show the attention to detail and give the game charm and character. For instance, as the player progresses, saw blades are added into the levels as obstacles that destroy the ball instantly. Whenever the player hits one of these – and the player will hit at least a couple of these throughout the game – the ball will splatter on the the part of the blade hit. What’s more is that whatever the color the ball is at the time (you can change colors), that is the color splattered onto the blade.
There are many other small details speckled throughout the game which can easily go unnoticed. What these small additions do, especially when so many are implemented, is add polish to the game. I’m glad to say that this game is very polished, visually speaking. In addition to the little details improving the polish, the 3D used in Hazumi is outstanding. Personally, I greatly enjoy when I can play my games in 3D; when a game like Hazumi uses the 3D well, I’m a happy gamer. Now, the 3D isn’t used to affect the gameplay, but it does create a deeper feel to each level, helping to add to the overall visual polish (there’s that word again!) of the game.
Solid frame rates, a large amount of smaller visual details, and decent usage of colors help to make Hazumi an enjoyable visual experience overall, despite somewhat uninspired art direction.
Audio – 6.75/10
The audio in Hazumi is a mixed bag for me: the actual audio cues are very well done, while the music is a little lacking.
The music found in the game is enjoyable, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough. I found myself, more often than not, just turning the music off; it didn’t alter my gaming experience very much, which is a double-edged sword. On one side, a game like this doesn’t need phenomenal music to fill the background with delightful sound; it doesn’t really affect the overall experience too much. On the other side, the lack of variety in music can easily lead to aural fatigue.
Though the music was lacking, I found the various general audio cues to be very well done. Much like the visuals, it is the attention to the smallest details that make the audio stand out in this aspect. The perfectly timed, fitting cues are spot on: the “bump” noises from the ball, the harsh shred of a saw tearing the ball apart, the various unique cues for each type of “action block.” The cues are very well done, and help to give a decent audio experience overall.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
This is where I was thoroughly surprised; the gameplay in Hazumi is strangely addicting. The game could’ve gotten very old, very quickly with this simplistic style of gameplay, but thanks to the difficulty increasing, solid pacing/difficulty curve, and the very nice level designs later on, the title stays fresh and fun the whole way through.
Is this going to revolutionize gameplay in this genre, or will it completely surprise the gamer? No, not at all. But what is done is solid, with tight controls and fun game mechanics.
The goal is simple: break every block that can be broken in the level, without dying, of course. The player has the chance to earn one, two, or three stars on each level, all of which depend on how fast the level is finished and the block breaking combos performed. In short, break all the blocks as quickly as you can. The stars/time are displayed on the bottom screen, while the level is displayed on the upper screen.
As the player progresses, the levels get much harder. What I have named “action blocks” are incorporated, adding to the puzzle element of the title, while obstacles such as saws are added to eradicate your little bouncing ball. Action blocks are a very nice addition to the gameplay, having a nice variety and range of effects. In one level, you might come across a teleporting block, while in another there is a color-changing block. When the “action blocks” are used in tandem within a specific level is when I had the most fun with Hazumi.
This game is addicting. Where it shines is in the way it is played: a player can pick it up and play for five minutes, or can easily spend an hour with it. It’s a fun little title that anyone can pick up quickly, but rather difficult to master and get three star ratings on each level; there are a substantial amount of levels, as well.
My one complaint, however, has to do with menus/navigation between levels. I found myself a little frustrated many times throughout my play-through of Hazumi, since I was trying to get three stars on each level. I would replay a level previously beaten, acquire the three stars, then would have to go back to the main menu in order to select the next level I wanted to attempt. It is a small complaint, but it seems like a rather large oversight in the design.
Other than that small complaint, the gameplay is rather fun and extremely addicting.
Entertainment Factor – 8.5/10
Though there were no online gameplay capabilities, I had a ton of fun with this little title. When I was out in public and had a moment to play, Hazumi was a great title to pick up for a few minutes; on the opposite end, when I was at home and had more time to play, the game was still able to hold my interest for longer periods of play time. Hazumi does a good job of keeping it fresh, which makes the game strangely addicting. The difficulty was just right for me, so it made it fun to attempt three stars on each level, instead of making it feel like an obligation.
I think some multiplayer games might’ve benefitted the title, though: perhaps a time attack mode where two square off at the same time, while able to see each other’s ghosts on the screen. Or maybe some kind of mode revolving around who gets the most blocks crushed. There is a nice stage creator mode added into the game (only 12 stages can be stored at once though!), which could’ve led to fun online functionality, but the lack of online sharing hinders it.
Having some type of multiplayer with a game like this could’ve greatly improved replayability, though there is still a good amount of content; it took me about five hours to play through the game, with many stars left to acquire.
What I found in Hazumi was a fun title that is surely addicting on the most basic level. I recommend this game, especially for its $3.99 price mark – a very reasonable price for quite a bit of gameplay. Though I did find myself wanting some more online capabilities, and the music in the title wasn’t anything to be excited for, the game still manages to feel very polished. Hazumi is a nice little eShop title to add to your 3DS collection.
Overall – 8/10