City Connection have been digging through some old games and giving them complete remakes and the latest of these is Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase. In the vein of Puzzle Fighter, Columns and Puyo Puyo, Soldam is a colour based puzzle game that shines best in verses mode. It has some interesting mechanics that take a bit of getting used to and that is what makes Soldam unique.
Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase uses the term ‘flanking’ to describe how it works. Squares of four blocks (made of fruit) come down from the top of the screen to the bottom and will start to fill up the screen. Your job is to create a horizontal row of the same colour to clear the blocks. You do this by colouring in the horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines between two blocks of the same colour as you drop them down. This is what Soldam calls ‘flanking’. To help you on your way the bottom line of your playing area is cornered off from play and will always be the same colour. So if you have all yellows at the bottom row, then a few reds above – placing a yellow block directly on top will colour those red blocks yellow. This can work horizontally and diagonally too depending on your placement.
There are several ways to use this mechanic. It might be that you line up combos of colours to colour in in certain lines. It may be that you’ll try to arrange the descending blocks as close to perfect colour lines as possible (although that won’t work for long). Sometimes you’ll just need to wing it with what you’ve been given. Soldam tells you on the way down what blocks will flank to the colour and that gives you a huge clue as to how things will play out. You can combo line after line as blocks are erased but it takes a lot of planning and skill to do so. It is also worth noting that when you do clear a row, your cornered off anchor line at the bottom of the screen changes to the colour you just cleared. Later on, this becomes a huge part of your tactics in single player mode.
Soldam’s single player mode is bare bones but moreish. It starts you off with two colours and then starts to speed things up and when you survive the speed section a new colour is added in and things slow down for a while again. After several minutes you’ll be trying to juggle four or five colours and that is essentially where my talent started to run out! Your scores and moves you make unlock little pet monsters called Plumis from the forest play area that you can have placed alongside your character. They don’t have any effect on the game itself but you need to hit certain combos to unlock different ones and that becomes a mini challenge itself. Outside of that there is a challenge mode with 50 challenges to complete in a certain amount of moves.
Showdown mode is where the vs mode is at and it is delightfully straight forward. Here you’ll be given a single colour at the bottom of your screen to constantly work with (unlike single player where it changes up). This keeps the game focused and frantic and that is because the next block line of what gets put into play next is shared between both players. Sometimes it is worth trying to hold back or speeding up to make sure you get the blocks you need but a perceptive opponent will be doing the same thing. It is a shame that there is no AI bot for vs mode but Soldam offers an unique spin on the vs block puzzler for those who get stuck in.
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to the beautifully vibrant graphics and cutesy music that adds to the games charm without ever getting annoying. That is no small achievement in such a bright and bold game.
Bought on PS4.
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