On The Fly Entertainment

Published on June 24th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor

Sum Fighter Xbox Indie Review

Platform: Xbox LIVE Indie Games
Price: 240 MSP ($3)
Developer: On The Fly Entertainment

Four high school students all have different appearances and goals in life–there’s the brainiac, the jock, the rebellious artist, and the goth. Troy the jock wants a university scholarship and to play college football. Edison, the brainiac nerd, harbors an undying love for a girl. Marshal, the tattooed rebel wants to show his “art”–which consists of spraypainted graffiti–to the world. Finally we’re down to Poe, the dark goth who’s obsessed with computers and technology, and is seen staring longingly and wide-eyed outside of a local computer shop.

Each character has their own persona and role in the game, and they “fight” each other not with brawn or physical combat, but with mental prowess in the unique block-destroying puzzler interface.

Sum Fighter at it’s heart is a unique competitive puzzler set in the vein of the popular Indie title Block Sum that utilizes a mechanic in which players must “solve” a mathematical puzzle, selecting and combining pieces to destroy them and fill up the Power gauge and attack opponents. The dynamics are a bit confusing, and the tutorial may not be 100% understandable to all players, so some experimentation is recommended, especially for near players.

Basically players must use the cursor to combine blocks together and destroy them, each block containing a number and a sum when added with another block. Inherently this game is a math puzzler that requires fast focus and keen attention. When players figure out just how to play it, any gamer of any age–assuming they can complete basic math problems–can enjoy this title.

This game is great for players who want to work on both their critical thinking and focus skills, as well as to sharpen their addition skills. To solve the puzzles and to win, players must destroy blocks of the same value, combining them by holding the A button and using the directional pad to select them.

Blocks are destroyed by strategically combining blocks that surround other blocks with the same value. For example, blocks with the number 2 on them must be surrounded on two sides by blocks of the same number on at least two sides. As values increase, the sides corresponding with the values increase as well. Sounds a bit confusing, right? It takes a bit of experimentation and a few playthroughs–not to mention the in-game tutorial at the beginning of the game.

Bombs are quite useful as well as they ignite and blow up all like-valued blocks on the map. These bombs can be extremely advantageous when strategically utilized to destroy as many blocks as possible and raise the chances of victory.

As players destroy blocks, their Power bar increases, and once filled players can launch an attack on opponents that add more blocks for them to destroy. When players are in danger of losing, two school-bells will rise slowly on either side of the interface, and if they reach the top then the player loses the game. Players can also lose if the blocks themselves reach the top, which is similar to vertical-scrolling puzzler classics like Dr. Mario and the all-time favorite Tetris.

There are few unique features in Sum Fighter that separate it from other Xbox Indie titles on the marketplace today. Most notably, the game uses a distinct and unique style of puzzler with heavy focus elements and mathematics/addition skills. The signature artwork is another unique feature in this Xbox Indie release that is quite entertaining and amusing, each character having their own personal appearance and roles which are reflected in their style.

The mathematical attributes aren’t usually found in many Xbox Indie puzzlers, and these elements are all wrapped in a vertical-scrolling interface that is entertaining and surprisingly action-packed. Although the game doesn’t have explosions or melee battles, the game still requires quite a bit of focus and hand-eye co-ordination. This game also requires players to act quickly and make adequate decisions to earn bonuses and high scores.

Sum Fighter’s enjoyable animated style is another signature unique feature that makes it stand out on the XBLIG marketplace. Each character has their own appearance–there’s Edison the nerdy math whiz, and Troy the jock. All artwork is of surprisingly high-quality and is quite impressive and enjoyable for gamers of all ages. All artwork looks like it would be on a show on a television series, perhaps something on Cartoon Network, and the artwork reflects On The Fly Entertainment’s talented artist.

Overall the Xbox Indie title Sum Fighter is enjoyable in many ways–the awesome artwork and humorous character styles, the impressive graphics, and the unique mathematics integration that combines addition with vertical-scrolling puzzler gameplay elements. While there are a few frustrating things about the game–the unclear tutorial and explanations of how to play the game, and the somewhat unforgiving competitiveness of enemies–the XBLIG puzzler is still impressive and enjoyable, as long as players can understand how to play it.

+ Original and Unique Puzzler Elements

+ Humorous Characters and Animations

+ High-Quality Artwork For an XBLIG Title

+ Competitive Puzzler With Strategy & Focus Elements

Confusing to Learn

Tutorial Doesn’t Explain Game Dynamics Very Well

– May Require Trial & Error Playthroughs

[xrr label=”Rating: 6.75/10″ rating=6.75/10]

For more information on Sum Fighter and the Independent XNA dev studio that created it, On The Fly Entertainment, please visit their official website.

This game is inspired by the Indie puzzler Block Sum and reflects this game’s mechanics in many ways, especially the unique addition dynamics of the vertical-scrolling puzzler.

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About the Author

I'm an aspiring games journalist who writes articles focused on everything from Indie Games to next-gen titles. [Twitter] @Mr_Deeke [E-Mail] derek.s(at)gamingtruth(dot)com

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