Numba Review – Much More Fun Than Doing Your Taxes
Numba is a puzzle game from Cobra Mobile. While most puzzle games involve matching colors or shapes or making words out of letters, this as you might surmise, uses numbers in its puzzle mechanic. Essentially the goal is to find and highlight a series of at least three numbers on a ten by eight grid of them.
By a series, it can be simply instances of a number in a row, like 1-1-1-1; increasing by a fixed amount, like 1-2-3 or 1-5-9 or 2-4-6; or by doubling, like 1-2-4-8. You simply move the cursor over the tile you want to start from, then press and hold either X or O, then move the d-pad in the directions of numbers you want to add to the series. Once done, you let go of the button and it counts up your score and new tiles fill the board.
There are complications to this of course. Some tiles give you bonuses, like extra time or points or an extra jumble. That last, jumble, lets you scramble or shuffle the letters on the board when you can’t find a series when you hit the right shoulder button.
But other tiles hinder you, or at least complicate gameplay. Some change their numbers every time you enter in a series. There is also a matching set of fire and ice tiles. Fire ones burn out eventually, while ice ones can’t be used until they become unfrozen. And then there are the vanishing tiles, that fade in and out of existence much like a B-list actor.
There are three modes. Classic mode is timed, you only have a minute or two to do a level. Essentially, if you’ve played the game Bookworm, it’s like that, but with numbers. Each level is different in terms of what numbers are on the board and their frequency. Early on you only have a few numbers, generally 1-2-3, but later on it uses almost all the digits. Though once in a while it reverts to something much simpler. One level was simply all 1s.
What I found confusing is that just what it takes to pass a level seems to vary. Sometimes you can pass one simply by making one series of numbers. Other levels require dozens. You are displayed a % meter, so you have some indication of your progress, but it’s hard to say exactly. I think it’s score related. Unfortunately, you seemingly always have to start at level 1. There is no level select nor is there any sort of difficulty selection.
Timeless is just like classic mode, but untimed. So basically you just play until you get sick of playing further. Unfortunately, you can’t select levels here, either.
Puzzle is the mode I had the most fun with. The goal here is to remove all the tiles from a preset layout. While the first couple of these are easy, most require some thought and involve trickery with the special tiles. You can replay any of the ones you’ve beaten. But you cannot skip any if you get stuck. There are 84 of these.
The presentation is quite striking, with an art and music style straight out of the 1970s, if I closed my eyes I could almost pretend I was at the lounge of a Holiday Inn. The developers must be Japanese though, because it uses their button method – O to select, X to cancel. Confusing at first until I realized it.
It’s a very solid game, but cut corners keep it from truly being great. The gameplay of classic mode is entertaining enough for a while, but I quickly got sick of having to start at the first level every time I played. Especially as the levels I had trouble with seemed unfairly long in how many series I needed to make.
Similarly, while I really enjoyed puzzle mode, once you get stuck, you’re stuck. Being able to skip a puzzle and come back to it later would have been great.
All in all though, it’s a very nice little puzzler, you more than get your money’s worth.