A moment of silence, if you will. Gunpey is a tribute to the deceased Gunpei Yokoi, a Nintendo legend responsible for the original Game Boy, among many other things. Gunpey itself is actually an eight-year-old idea, the first game to be released on little-known Japanese handheld the Wonderswan, designed by Yokoi. A Nintendo homage? On Sony's portable? Silence, remember.
Whether or not you know the roots of Gunpey, this PSP iteration is a game that very much hangs out in the same nightclubs as Lumines. Hip tunes and presentation that drips with ice-cube cool, in a puzzle game that fuses audio and visual effects in a hypnotic manner, with more 'skins' unlocked the more you play. You start with a grid. Diagonal fragments of lines - both straight and kinked - slowly feed up the screen, and it's game over if any of them reach the top. You can swap fragments in adjacent panels, aiming to complete jagged lines between the left and right walls of the play area; those unbroken lines vanish a few seconds later, giving you brief chance to connect other fragments to the circuit for bonus points.
The way of the Gunpey
It's slick, it's hypnotic, it's vibrant... but it's also stressful. There's little room for chill out, only freak out. By comparison, Lumines was a puzzler that you could feel in total control of, requiring the organisation of just one coloured block at a time. Gunpey feels like you're forever teetering on defeat, and it's no coincidence that the play area looks like a profit projection taken straight from the bidding pit of the New York Stock Exchange. Also, there's a hell of a lot of cursor movement needed to keep up. You need to have graduated from Lumines to get the most out of it.
Alternate play modes are geared for further tension but can still be fun - '10x10' mode has you playing on an oversized grid, ideal for stitching some monster paths together if your brain is capable of the cerebral sit-ups involved, and 'Double Skin' lets you play two games at once, in case you ever needed to know what spinning plates while reciting the alphabet backwards feels like.
Gunpey hasn't got the elegant simplicity of a great puzzle game, but that doesn't mean it's not worth considering. It's just that you'll be needing to invest some quality spare time in order to wring the most out of it, or else it'll all feel a bit too much like a waking anxiety dream - albeit a sleek and pretty one.
Overall A puzzler that's more demanding than Lumines, but is engaging and satisfying if you can hack the pace.
- Heartburn-sharp visuals
- Metronomic beats and effects
- Little room to relax