Developer: KranX Productions
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Part geometric, part musical, Musaic Box HD is one of the most inventive puzzlers I've played. If the name sounds familiar that’s because it’s been around for a few years on PC and Android. In fact, KranX Productions won both the Excellence in Design and Audio awards at the Independent Games Festival in 2009. The game still looks sharp in 2013, but what makes it shine is the compelling gameplay that mixes elements of spacial reasoning with musical challenge wrapped in a glossy point-and-click adventure package.
The story, such as it is, begins with the hero being summoned by his grandfather to receive a mysterious birthday present. While the grandsire is absent an equally mysterious book lies on a chair. That book serves as a menu of sorts. It has an outline of each puzzle and names the tune. Each of the 27 puzzles are in there and revolve around traditional songs like Yankee Doodle or Mary Had a Little Lamb. Players tap to select the puzzle to start the game.
Four (later five) musicians are hiding behind little windows in the corners of the screen. Each represents an instrument. In the middle is the playing field called the music stand. At the very bottom is a music player and scattered on the board are tiles that resemble Tetris pieces each with color-coded lines. Each color corresponds with an instrument and the lines on the tile indicate the melody or beat.
Players listen to the music and try to fill the stand with the correct pieces in order to recreate the song properly. Once a puzzle is complete players return to the book to get the next song. When a composition is particularly hard there is a hint button, but it’s of limited use. On really difficult puzzles players can also hunt down clues seek-and-find style in five lush environments.
The game is free and there is a nice selection of familiar melodies included, but to unlock all the music there is a $2.99 in-app purchase - well worth it if you enjoy the first handful. The arrangements breathe life into old standards with funky riffs and jazzy beats.
The puzzles become increasingly difficult as the compositions rise in complexity, but following the musical clues isn’t the only way to solve. No two like-colored tiles can appear in the same column and there are various solving combinations. Even the tone deaf can master the game with good spacial reasoning skills and some trial and error.
Musaic Box was innovative in 2009 and it still feels fresh on iPad today. The beautiful Retina graphics and compelling sounds will draw players in and the unique challenge will keep them coming back for more.