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Plus Plum [ぷらすぷらむ] Game Sample - Dreamcast

Vysethedetermined2 Follow
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  • 9 months ago
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Note: Skip to 07:46 for gameplay.

There are regular plums in the world and they're pretty good, but for those who can't get enough, there are PLUS PLUMS, and they are... meh. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good time, but I wanted to believe that this game had the right stuff anyway. Developed by and published by Takuyo in 1999 as one of their earliest self-published works, they are a fairly prolific development team that works almost exclusively on adventure games and visual novels, though they've branched out every so often to expand their portfolio. Also seen as "Plus Plumb", PP can almost be portrayed as your generic dime-a-dozen falling-object puzzler through and through if you were just basing this assumption on screenshots alone. To its credit, it retailed for the somewhat modest MSRP of 3,800 yen, which (at the time) was about half the price of the average big release, but when placed alongside true budget games like the majority of Superlite or A1 titles, most of which are better or, at the very least, more interesting, this game leaves some things to be desired. The one silver lining to make it worth picking up (for cheap) is that it's a Dreamcast exclusive and it was followed by a sequel and several ports of said sequel between 2004-2009 (and the sequel looks at least somewhat better).

The basic premise is that three friends (Theo, Kanan and Mana) run into an old man who is a self-proclaimed researcher and "Gravi Stone" expert who is learning their effects when he unwittingly encounters three owners of the Red, Blue and Pink stones which begin to resonate with each other. These stones have great powers and after a little demonstration, they go on an adventure to find the other Gravi Stones. I don't even know why the game is called what it is as there aren't any plums in sight... I feel lied to!

At a glance it, seems like your basic match-three puzzle game with each playable character having three special moves they can unleash to help turn the tide of battle, but there's more to it than that. You see, the game features six different colors and eliminating one color will change adjacent objects to different colors. The system is easy enough in practice: Red/Blue go together as well as Yellow/Green and White/Purple, but there's another, more important twist -- each character is on a balance beam. Each stone has a weight that's associated with it and these values fluctuate as chains are exchanged back and forth or certain skills are in play. The player whose scale reaches the bottom first loses, but if a player touches the top of the screen, they will not lose outright; they will be hit with a steep weight penalty instead, so you have to be careful of the top AND bottom of the screen.

The game has a basic versus, free play and story mode, which are about what you'd expect. The story mode is veeeery long for this type of game and you're probably gonna want to skip the scenes... that's all fine and good, but the battles are unusually slow for this type of game as well. While the first two opponents can be beaten easily enough, the A.I. is no slouch in this game and most characters lack a direct ability to help end the match quickly, so you can expect each one to take three minutes or more. The game is described as an exhilarating seesaw battle where the tides of victory are constantly changing, and I can at least partially agree with that assessment.

Not only does the balance beam constantly shift, but building your skill gauge sways as well as it "favors the disadvantaged" player in an attempt to make the game "fair". Even moreso, if you have more weight on your side and you continue to eliminate stones, a portion of the difference is taken and used to make the opponent's side heavier too, so this further drags things along. You can increase the weight on an opponent's stones by making chains (the color of the stone that starts the chain is the one that adds value under ordinary circumstances). While small chains are usually more advantageous and safe in this game, there is one caveat to the whole process that skilled players can use if they really want to win quickly; if you can pull off chains of eight or higher, you will shock the opposition and add weight to ALL their stones. Good luck actually achieving this though, as the computer definitely isn't gonna sit by and let you.

Plus Plum isn't a terrible game; I respect it for trying to add several twists to the genre, but instead of just refining the wheel, it tried to reinvent it entirely. The end result is something that isn't particularly fun to play, but I'd be interested in seeing what the sequel learned from this title. This is a video showing some things in action. Enjoy.

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