We’ve been bouncing balls to shatter blocks ever since Atari first conceptualised the genre in 1976’s Breakout, but in Hazumi we see everything that we’ve come to know switched up thanks to the realms of colour.
With Eyecancer Games describing their own take on the genre as being “simple and elegant,” Hazumi soon defies such immediate expectation by becoming hellishly frustrating. The Polish developer wholeheartedly spins – or bounces – itself into the action-puzzle arena, placing a coloured ball at your disposal and tasking you with crushing crystal blocks located in each stage.
The complexity of the puzzles steadily increases, as the Polish developer has organised numerous twists and pitfalls in each environment to cause you to stumble at every turn. Strategy will rely on working out how to best utilise coloured blocks that can only be shunted to clear a path, teleporters that take you between specific points, and bomb triggers that send sparks cascading across the screen. Meanwhile, you’ll have to adapt to more sinister traps such as buzzsaws, jawed doors and speed boosts, threatening to throw you off course or reset the stage if you meet a grizzly end.
It’s furiously addictive but comes at the expense that defeats often feel cheap. Negotiating the labyrinths requires daring, and you can immediately tell whether the angle of your successive bounce will result in failure. As more colours are introduced, you’ll have to slam against blocks that swap your ball’s colour quickly mixing up your tactics. More seasoned players will relish such challenge, but comes at the cost of losing accessibility in easily irritating those less inclined to conquer the more fiendish machinations in Hazumi.
Those looking to test the skill of their family and friends can turn to the Level Editor, a commendable inclusion that allows you to deviously map out 12 custom game maps. The only disappointment here is that they can’t be shared locally or online, instead relying on your to hand over your Nintendo 3DS to whoever wishes to rise to your challenge.
It’s an otherwise vibrant package, the pixel art graphics being matched by an equally retro-infused soundtrack that suits the game perfectly. Hazumi is a refreshing experience that packs plenty of content, although risks infuriating players through an inconsistent level of challenge throughout.