Honeycomb Beat (Nintendo DS) - Review by Chris



The Nintendo DS is the unclaimed home of puzzle games, with there being a huge number of releases in the genre meaning that they almost outnumber most of the efforts in the other genres. There are plenty of block based puzzlers and there seems to be little room for more so developers are having to come up with more original ideas so that their games get noticed. Developer Hudson Soft has taken such a step and released a puzzle game that ditches the square in favour of hexagons in a simple yet addictive panel flipping puzzler.


In Honeycomb Beat, you'll be presented with a set number of hexagonal panels, arranged into numerous shapes, and the idea of the game is two flip over the panels so that they all possess the same colour, with either all white or all orange panels clearing to puzzle. This is the gameplay in its most basic form and it doesn't complicate itself much beyond this. It's incredibly easy to get to grips with for any gamer, young or old, but even if it looks a bit complicated, there is a decent enough tutorial, split into four sections, which will take you through the game's basics very quickly. It'll take no more than 5 minutes to complete the tutorial and understand how to play the game which shows exactly how easy the gameplay really is. Of course, panel flipping puzzle games aren't uncommon but Honeycomb Beat does include some twists to make it stand out in the gameplay department. In specific stages, items called vectors will be placed on the puzzles, with these flipping all panels in the specific line on which the item lies. More complicated puzzles place more of these onto the grid or have you place them yourself and so you'll have to work with them in tandem to flip alternate vectors to clear alternate lines. There's also an item which blocks the flipping of a specific panel until you have flipped the panels around it a specific number of times, before unlocking that panel for use. The terminology here makes it sound hard to grasp but it's all very easy to understand. It's just trying to work out how best to clear the puzzle in the allotted number of beats that can be tricky as the later puzzles will leave you scratching your head.

The game is comprised of two modes. Firstly, the Puzzle mode presents you with over 200 puzzles which are unlocked as you go on, with there being 20 areas to clear, each of which contains 10 puzzles. They start out very simple, using simplistic honeycomb shapes so that you get to grips with everything that is happening but as your progress to the midpoint in terms of areas and beyond, the drastic change in the puzzle layout and the introduction of some of the gameplay twists, things do begin to get rather difficult. With 200 puzzles here to play through, there is plenty here but it soon becomes a rise and repeat affair and you'll have seen everything the game has to offer long before you reach that 200 mark. That certainly doesn't mean it's enjoyable, as it is. The only other mode on offer is the Evolution mode where you have a constantly rising set of joined panels and the idea is to clear as many lines as you possibly can by flipping to match colours in order to progress through a series of 10 levels. Again, it's simplistic but the increased tension of the constantly rising panels makes for a frantic but enjoyable mode. Unfortunately, there are no multiplayer options which seems like a missed opportunity.


With the gameplay taking place entirely on the touch screen, the controls were bound to follow suit and the only input you can make is through touches on that screen. It works well, much better than a button based system would have worked given the hexagonal nature of the puzzles you'll be solving, and responds as it should do although there were occurrences in the name entry screen where the it wasn't as precise as it could be but it's not any real problem as it doesn't affect the gameplay in anyway.


The visuals are rather simplistic, with the puzzles taking various shapes and sizes on the touch screen and the panels being either a hue of white or orange. These then sit on top of one of a number of backgrounds, with there being many that you can unlock, with lettering adorning the right hand side of the screen. It's not spectacular and does look as though it could have been created with ease by anyone who has basic Photoshop skills, with the same being said about the game's menus.

The top screen shows a bit more advancement in the visuals, showing a selection of psychedelic collages that bounce and ebb along to the game's techno music. While it has no bearing on the actual gameplay, it's certainly an interesting distraction from the rather basic visage of the touch screen but as said, it doesn't have any bearing on the gameplay and seems more like a distracter rather than anything useful.


The 'Beat' in the game's title can give you a clue as to the sort of music you'll encounter here. Techno and trance style music pour out of the DS' speakers and while it may not have much in common with honeycomb or puzzlers in general, it doesn't sound too bad but it does start to wear and grate the more you play as the same song is played throughout all of the puzzles on offer. The sound effects follow a similar line of thought but they never really strike a nerve as the music does after extended play time.

Dual screen

Only the touch screen is used in gameplay and during the menus for the most part, and everything is done with inputs here making good use of the touch screen but the top screen is used for nothing more than showing some psychedelic videos which isn't a particularly great use of that screen.

Final comments

Honeycomb Beat is a fun, if limited, puzzle game on the console that does just enough to make it standout as being different enough for people to take attention. The gameplay is certainly interesting, if rather basic, but puts up a considerable challenge the more you progress through the hundreds of puzzles. The real issue is that it feels very samey and by the midpoint, you'll have seen everything that the game has to throw at you, with later puzzles merely changing the shape of the puzzle. It's a disappointment that there is a limited amount of gameplay on offer but what's here is certainly enjoyable for the short run.

Pro: Fun and interesting gameplay, 200 puzzles to get stuck into, controls work a treat
Con: Only two modes, no multiplayer, later puzzles stagnate in quality
Final score: 6.2


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Boxart of Honeycomb Beat (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Hudson