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Ultimate Super Stack
"The Super Stack series continues to kick Glass!"
Gaming Gold Award Winner for Best Sound/Sound Editing and Best Puzzle Game
Just when you thought
it was safe to relax again, the star trapping mayhem of Super Stack has
returned! This time, you have to take your elixirs, spellbooks, and hourglasses
through 55 new levels of original puzzle game action!
Test your mettle as
you use your magical items and the wizard's help to trap stars! Use chain
reactions and Super Stacks to add bonus stars to your game. Or, discover
your new powers as you find out the secrets of the elusive Super Star!
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
|I really didn't think that Oren Bartal
could move a level up from the original Super Stack in the Graphics category,
especially since last time it seemed that the DirectQB library he used
to make the game was pushed to the limit to make the complicated, flickerless
animations possible. Of course, I was proven wrong.
A lot of the look in Ultimate Super Stack
is familiar to the original Super Stack game. The charmingly animated wizard
returns in his full and utter glory, and many of the game pieces (like
the elixirs and spellbooks) look just the same as they did in the original
incantation of the game.
Where Ultimate Super Stack moves a level
up is in the background department. The grey background from the original
game was tossed and replaced with a beautifully-rendered backdrop of bricks
and mural drawings. Also new to the Super Stack series is another level
of animation. The screenshots above don't illustrate how Oren somehow manages
to orchestrate a stream of rotating stars from the sky, all while keeping
the rest of the screen very animated and alive. Sure, there isn't more
than that first background design. But because this game justs seem to
bounce at you, it's just impossible to give this game anything less than
a perfect Graphics score!
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
|Good. The sound effects from the original
Super Stack have not been abandoned, and like the first game Ultimate Super
Stack also doesn't have any music. A few more sounds were added to help
add a little more impact to the game's new features, like the shattering
noise made from the new glass blocks.
|Gameplay (n.)The precision of control
and involvement of character within its universe
|The gameplay in Ultimate Super Stack is
original and again stays very faithful to its predecessor. The object of
the game is to "trap" a certain number of stars by nestling them between
elixirs, spellbooks, and hourglasses. Depending on how you trap these stars,
you can score extra points by forming "chain reactions" and "Super Stacks".
Once you guide the wizard through the game's 55 levels, you can declare
yourself the Ultimate Super Stack champion.
Many of the perils that make star trapping
difficult from the first game have been retained, particularly the nasty
ice block. But new challenges await. The triple speed rating requires an
incredible amount of concentration, and the new "glass" block will apply
your Super Stack skills in a new way.
But while there are new challenges, Ultimate
Super Stack does come with a new ally: the Super Star. Super stars can't
be broken by normal means. Instead, when Super Stars touch the top of the
screen, a hand comes crashing down from the sky and crushes all the stars
in its path, giving you a boatload of star points.
Unusually enough, after playing and re-playing
both Super Stack and Ultimate Super Stack for a while, I decided not to
give Ultimate the same perfect Gameplay score that the original Super Stack
earned. This had something to do with the addition of the glass block and
the super star to the game. The original Super Stack required practice
and mastery of the controls to pass all the levels. But sometimes the way
the glass blocks and Super Stars orient themselves give the player the
added benefit of luck. I'd literally solve a level thanks to a lucky star.
I'm not saying this is such a bad thing; the gameplay in Ultimate Super
Stack is still very, very good and it's a force for all other puzzle games
to be reckoned with. But overall, there's a little more discipline in Super
Stack that made that game that much more intense.
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
|Last time, Super Stack received an Average
game rating because of it's witty use of stage titles and original game
elements, despite the fact that the game itself did not have a printed
story. Ultimate Super Stack repeats this feat by retaining the wizard and
creating even more witty stage titles, thus earning itself the same Average
|Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience
can be repeated again and again
|The scores may not show it since Ultimate
Stack received a perfect Graphics rating, but this is really where this
puzzle game shines. The new features of this game, particularly the glass
blocks and the Super Star, make the "Fun" mode and level clearing mode
that much better than the original game.
Another thing I liked about Ultimate Super
Stack is the customization feature in the "Fun" mode. You can set how hard
the game is by controlling the game's speed, star frequency, and item frequency.
This really allows you to control how hard the game is all the time, so
it doesn't hurt your head so much when you're playing it really late at
night. So now, thanks to Oren Bartal's new customization feature, you too
can play this particular title all day, all night, and well into the next
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought
|While the original Super Stack was all
about defeating you with each level's mind-numbing layout, Ultimate Super
Stack will try to beat you based on your reflexes. While the levels are
made to be more fair than the original, you'll quickly notice that in the
later levels the pieces descend faster than ever before. In addition, Ultimate
Super Stack has much more emphasis on endurance. There are seven more levels
than the original Super Stack for you to climb, for a grand total of 55
brand-new levels in the "Level Clearing" Mode!
Strangely enough, the new pieces introduced
to Ultimate Super Stack are really more of an aid than a pain. The super
star is like getting a second chance... I can't tell you how many times
I thought I lost just before the super star reaches the top of the hill,
eliminating all the stars stacked against me and forming some extra chain
reactions along the way. Then, there's the glass pieces, which allow to
reduce the stack faster if you concentrate your energy on eliminating the
glass first before going back to star-trapping.
All in all, the new features in Ultimate
Super Stack make the overall experience more controllable and a lot less
frustrating. But that's a two-way street too... ultimately, I found the
game to be less challenging and thus slightly less intense than the original.
|Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|The original Super Stack reminds me of
Dave's Insanity Sauce, a fine little blend of Asian habaneros, anaheims,
jalapeños, and the dreadfully hot capsaicin extract. Dave's sauce
could literally turn the strongest pepperhead into a weak and quivering
fool. In the same respect, the original Super Stack was such a challenge
that even after learning the skills, there was that x-factor within the
game's odds that really push the challenge to the next level.
Taking this hot sauce analogy one step
further, the manufacturers of Dave's Insanity Sauce soon released Dave's
Insanity Sauce II, the second burning. This version of the lethal sauce
was hot and more refined than the original hot sauce, but it wasn't as
numbingly intense as the original. This is how Ultimate Super Stack compares
to Super Stack. Both games are very, very good, and the new features and
customizability of Ultimate Super Stack make it a worthy download even
if you haven't downloaded the original Super Stack. In fact, gourmet QB
gamers ought to have both of Oren's puzzle games somewhere in their library,
just in case they feel the urge to play this charmingly addictive set of
||Genre: Puzzle Game
||To solve: 3-5 hours Final Rating: 25/35
To download this game, click here.
you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
play Ultimate Super Stack, unzip the file and run "USSTACK.EXE".
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