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Fishing Through The Reef
Bejeweled is a fan favorite puzzle title amongst casual gamers of all kinds. It’s not only a landmark bargain-bin game that offers up countless hours of mind-boggling activity, but it also happened to introduce gamers to a rarely exploited genre: the puzzle block genre.
It’s a fairly simple game mechanic that revolves around matching up block pieces to complete a level. In the case of Big Kahuna Reef 2, players will not only match up pieces like in the original Big Kahuna, but there is also the additional requirement of breaking specific pieces in order to progress to the next level. It’s about as fun as it is tedious and casual gamers who are well rounded with their puzzle-gaming wits will probably progress quickly through the game, while gamers who aren’t too keen on their brain-to-eye coordination could find Big Kahuna Reef 2 somewhat frustrating throughout.
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Reflexive’s venture into producing casual games for the very audience that their web portal caters toward seems like a smart tactic. The only problem is that when you decide to come up with a sequel to a popular puzzle game for the casual gaming audience, you have to remember that the game is supposed to actually contain fun enough concepts to not only differentiate it from the competition, but also to keep its core audience entertained.
The problem with Big Kahuna Reef 2 is that the concept revolves solely around a very basic mechanic: breaking a specific amount of blocks in each stage in order to progress onward. It wouldn’t have been a bad concept had it evolved past the original's blatantly obvious stigma of being another Bejeweled clone.
It ultimately left me feeling like it was a fun game at first but then it quickly dwindled into a repetitive knockoff without any of the original flair that it needs to stand apart from the competition. One key feature that Big Kahuna Reef 2 contains is the ability to unlock exotic sea creatures from the deep sea. However, other than that the game keeps things very simple.
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Mediocrity isn’t a good word for describing an interactive software title’s measure of enjoyment, yet that’s about the best way to describe the gameplay experience of Big Kahuna Reef 2. Unlike Ricochet Infinity or The Serpent of Isis, the problem with this game is that there’s nothing really there to keep gamers reeled in if they aren’t making quick progress through the levels.
The basic gameplay mechanic revolves around matching pairs of three or more blocks, and some specialty items are thrown into the mix to keep the gameplay fresh during some levels. I found my attention drifting away given the stagnant pace and it lacks the ambiance for motivation. The continuity of engagement just felt weak and it may result in a lot of gamers feeling like they have to push themselves forward to progress through the game.
Big Kahuna’s gameplay could have been saved if it wasn’t so marginally generic. Maybe in the next sequel they’ll throw in something a little more original and little bit different.
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Graphics And Audio
This is one of those puzzle games that happens to get all the visual effects right and the graphical aesthetics in order. It’s not possible to go into Big Kahuna and not tip a nod in the direction of the art team for their fantastic creation of an underwater world with dazzling fish and sea creatures that can be unlocked throughout the progress of the game, even if several of the backgrounds are recycled many times over.
The problem isn’t with the fish, the underwater backgrounds or the visual themes presented in the game, the problem comes in with the redundant and minimal soundtrack. The music that is present in the game is done extremely well, however there just isn’t enough of it.
If players are going to spend an hour each day playing a game of this sort it should at least provide a sizable enough soundtrack to keep gamers entertained. In a way, it felt like certain aspects of the game were thrown together within a matter of weeks, and it somewhat shines through in the lack of certain presentation qualities.
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This game definitely falls within the category of being a 2.5 out of 5 game more than it is a 3 out of 5 star game. With many of the minor and somewhat tangibly unavoidable flaws the game carries with it, it’s not entirely possible to say that just anyone will go into Big Kahuna 2 and actually enjoy it for more than half-an-hour or so.
Even though the game sports a multiplayer feature (albeit it requires more than one mouse on the same computer) and downloadable levels, it just felt like the game could have used some upgrading in other areas. For instance, if the soundtrack was extended a bit more; if there were more specialty items; if the game featured a bit more diversity in its presentation perhaps the thumb would be pointing up. But in this case, if you aren't the kind of gamer who really loves the concept of unlocking new fish and watching them swim around as you break blocks using old-school Bejeweled tactics, then you probably won't enjoy Big Kahuna Reef 2: Chain Reaction.