Time flies when you’re having fun in “Wonderland”!
Unlike similar action/puzzle games, Wonderland’s difference lies in the interaction of the player with its zany universe, and it achieves this with a sense of old-school feeling. It’s no wonder that the basic elements come from the games like Boulder Dash, Sokoban or D-Generation. Wonderland blends these with such an inventive way that all of a sudden you find yourself playing its twenty something level! It’s that addictive.
Simplicity of the game plays an important part of its addictiveness. You can’t see any fancy 3D graphics or a confusing gameplay component in Wonderland. It even doesn’t have a storyline. And this helps you to get into the game right away. However, other Wonderland games (especially “Secret Worlds”) are far more complex than this first game and the adding of the houses, trees, new tiles and characters, and even a dispensable storyline with illustrations really harm the game. You don’t need a map or a story to enjoy Wonderland.
As the description of the game also says, Purple Motion’s music for the game deserves special mention. Although there are only 5 tracks in the game (1 for the title screen, 1 for the ending and 3 for in-game music), these impulse tracker modules perfectly fit to the mood of the game with their rather colorful yet ambient sound. And you can also hear them in the sequel of the game, “Wonderland Secret Worlds”. I guess the developers thought that Wonderland wouldn’t be Wonderland without PM’s music!
And when you finally complete the game, you see a beautiful ending that will make a simile on your face :)
Although Wonderland is written to run even on lower end Pentium systems with a recent / fast video card, its performance can considerably decrease when you play large levels that contain lots of moving objects as in the level of “The Crazy Box Factory” or the “gigantic” final level. This last level is unnecessarily huge and this is why I cheated on this level. It could have been designed with an ingenious attitude that the player has never seen before – rather than focussing too much on the size. Size should not matter in a game like Wonderland.
The Bottom Line
I must admit I didn’t expect much from the game. I installed Wonderland to my hard drive because I was hoping to find a “great” soundtrack in its files so that I could rip it (at the time I was more into game music than playing)! Fortunately not only I ripped all the music tracks, I also found out that they were actually written by Purple Motion! I couldn’t be happier. However, when I finally run the game and played a few levels, I was taken off guard again: I saw a puzzle game that I truly enjoyed “play”ing – and I generally don’t like puzzle games because they can be really frustrating and they easily get on your nerves.
Wonderland’s main virtue is that it’s not frustrating. Indeed, it manages to be fun till the very end of the game (and the full registered version has 85 levels!). I remember playing the first level of the Halls of Undermountain, “Trial by Fire” and I was so stunned that all I did was to stare at the firestorm of cannon balls! I did not know what I was supposed to do. But I knew one thing, that you can solve any level in the game (maybe except the last one) with enough observation to understand its simple yet clever gameplay. Because all you have to do is to use wisely what you’ve got (it might be the other half of your winsome duo!) against “certain” obstacles and enemies while enjoying “Tower Hopping”, “Fire and Ice” and even “That Darn Scouge!”. Wonderland creates such a sense of exploration that you are not limited to solve only the puzzles. Thanks to a dazzling interplay, you are invited to enjoy your environment throughout the game either by interacting with its “charming” characters or by discovering some beautiful moments in it that you don’t expect from a puzzle game. Personally I can’t forget the moment when I was finishing a training level called “A Day at the Zoo” and saw the gates that surround all the captured “confounding Coilys, electrifying Z-Bots, and hot-headed Kabooms!” opened before I moved to the next level. It was a neat, very sweet approach that shows how “engaging” the game is.
At first glance it might seem like a kid’s game but Wonderland has a lot more to offer like the books of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” or Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Little Prince”. It is no wonder that the game’s title is “Wonderland”; it’s worthy of the name and it develops some new connotations related with puzzle gaming.
by Accatone (5191) on May 19th, 2005