Arctic Adventures: Brain Freeze Review—Still Perplexing, Less Pricey
A few years ago, Polar Panic was released on the PlayStation 3 by Eiconic Games. It was essentially a modern, updated version of the classic arcade game Pengo, and besides the main mode, it had a puzzle mode added on to it. This puzzle mode was spun off into its own title on Minis, Arctic Adventures: Polar’s Puzzles, with all new puzzles. And now that puzzle spin-off has been given a sequel on PlayStation Mobile, Arctic Adventures: Brain Freeze.
If you have played either of the previous two titles, this is just more of the same, 50 new levels, with the option of purchasing the levels from the previous games. They are in-app purchases for 99 cents (£.79) each, bringing it up to a total of $3.97, more than a dollar cheaper than just Polar’s Puzzles originally was. The engine has also seen some enhancements; you can easily restart a level and take back a move, which makes things a lot easier.
If you haven’t played the previous games, the premise is fairly simple. You control a polar bear who can move around blocks of ice (and other things) along a grid. The goal is to maneuver these blocks so as to let the polar bear reach the exit square. Sometimes blocks need to be smashed; sometimes they need to be pushed onto switches on the grid; sometimes you need to move them into empty spaces to form a bridge. And you have to be very careful not to move the blocks where you can no longer move them and, on some levels, avoid hazards like moving barrels.
While the premise is simple, it’s actually surprisingly complicated in practice. The game itself doesn’t really do the player any favors by doing anything like explaining things. Polar’s Puzzles seemed to assume the player had played Polar Panic, as does this, Brain Freeze, and what’s more, this starts off with relatively complex puzzles. No beginner’s curve here.
Indeed, Jasper was originally going to review this but was stymied thanks to his lack of familiarity with the game (and remember, he figured out how to play those Arabic card games, so he’s no slouch). Heck, I had to go back and reread my review to jog my memory on how to play it, because I was similarly baffled when I first started it up. There is a “How To” section in the menu, but it manages to be both overly verbose (19 cartoon panels) and yet not terribly helpful.
Once you figure out (or remember) how to play, it’s a solid enough type of puzzle game. There is a lot of trial and error involved. Which block goes where? And how do I move it there? It’s not really the frustrating sort of puzzle, since you can usually work it out eventually.
When you have finally figured everything out, you get rated by a number of stars. You can go back and replay the level or move on to the next one. If you do get stuck, there are usually several other levels open, so you can skip around a fair amount, thankfully.
PlayStation Mobile typically doesn’t seem to handle 3D graphics too well, with a few exceptions. This is really not one of them, as the frame rate seems to be somewhat choppy, maybe 20 frames per second. It plays smoothly enough, though. You can use touch or buttons.
The premise of this game is certainly fun enough. My main problems with Arctic Adventures: Polar’s Puzzles were the annoyance in having to restart a level and the rather high price. Arctic Adventures: Brain Freeze solves both issues. On the flip side, for a game starring an extremely cute polar bear, it’s not the most accessible. A short set of tutorial levels really would have helped. Even if you have played the previous games, they were released nearly 3 years ago, which is like 47 in polar bear years.