Underline Review—Color Me Blind

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Developer Albino Pixel’s logo is black and white, which is in direct contrast to the M&M vibes of Underline, their introductory game in the PlayStation Mobile arena. In addition to being one of the first games on the service,Underline is also the PS Mobile game with the most bang for the buck, because of its four game modes, a bevy of achievements and local scoreboards.

Again, there is no online connectivity, and this makes the game a little bit disappointing, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Easily, Underline could net a perfect score because the core gameplay is just so much fun, up until the user interface and touch controls stop you from enjoying it.

Underline is a word game. In each and every game mode, your objective is to string up dictionary words to remove the letters (written inside circles) from the board and score points. You can chain words in any direction as long as each successive letter is adjacent to the current letter you are touching. The more complicated the word is, the better the point value. Still, bonuses are mostly based on the length of the words; however, there is another factor to include: speed. The quicker you are able to string up words, the better, and there are certain bonuses on random letters with power-ups.

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Here is where the problem mostly lies: you may find a word, but stringing up the letters is the hard part. The touch controls are not that great, since it’s easy to touch the wrong letter. The circles are too small for your fingers. I struggle with it even though I have small bony fingers, so how much worse for the people with average-sized hands?

The visual cue for the selected letters is also not that clear. Only the letter changes color from white to black when the circle is tapped. There is no highlighting of the entire circle. If you can’t see what the problem is, it’s simple: you can’t see the visual cue because your finger is on top of it. You have to slant your fingers and look over them.

You can always check on the right side of the screen, since the word you are currently building is being displayed there. But again, good luck keeping up with all the bonuses, the time limit and the board getting filled up with all the letters.

There is a Classic Mode, where you just keep on stringing words together to prevent the grid from filling up. The Time Attack is where you string words together to fill up the time, while preventing letters from overflowing the container. In Wordsearch Mode, you are given two minutes to search for words, and there is no danger of filling up the grid since the entire container is already filled up. Pass and Play is the local multiplayer mode, based only on the Time Attack. It would be intriguing if there were a Pass and Play Wordsearch Mode.

There is a problem with the menu. There is no such thing as a back button, and again the physical buttons are omitted from the control scheme. Once you enter a game mode, you can’t go back to the main menu. You have to actually start a session and quit from the pause menu just to get back to the main menu. It is mind-boggling, especially when a home button is available in the Scoreboard, the Achievement panel , the Options tab and the Tutorial section.

Still, Underline is a must-own PS Mobile game, and it is the only word game you’ll ever need, at least for the basic word game need. The gameplay may not be shiningly perfect, but it is more than adequate. It looks good, too, not to mention the menu being attractive, as opposed to certain other PS Mobile games, with their uninspired aesthetics.

9/10

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Comments

One Response to “Underline Review—Color Me Blind”
  1. JeremyR says:

    It is a really nice game in terms of features, but I literally could not play it because of the touch interface. I think you really almost need a stylus (if those work on the Vita) to do so.

    I have big hands though, I can almost palm a basketball.

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