2-4-1 Fun Quest
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| 2-4-1 Fun Quest

Wash & Go is a great idea. At little more than the average cost of either shampoo or conditioner, you can buy a single bottle that contains both substances. It saves you money and time.

However, if you could take a bottle of Wash & Go and manage somehow to separate the shampoo from the conditioner to put them in separate bottles, you'd probably find that neither is first rate. People who take hair seriously never use Wash & Go products, and there's a good reason: the results are unspectacular.

Which brings us to iPlay's 2-4-1 Fun Quest, which bundles together the puzzle games Inca Quest and Big Kahuna Reef. We've reviewed both of these aging puzzlers before, with lukewarm enthusiasm. Is this package the salvation of them both?

The only way to find out properly is to take a look at each of the games in turn, so let's begin with Inca Quest.

The object of Inca Quest is to fire bubbles at other bubbles of the same colour. You control a turret at the base of the screen, and the bubbles you need to destroy are clustered across the top, on a ceiling that slowly descends. Fire a green bubble at two or more green bubbles, and all of them disappear, producing a crater and detaching whatever other bubbles happened to be clinging to the vanquished bunch.

That's right, it's Puzzle Bobble. Almost.

There are three game modes: Adventure, Survival, and Puzzle.

In Adventure, you participate in a limp lost-explorer story in which you have to complete a series of progressively busier levels, with the aid of power-ups such as a laser sight and a bomb. Whilst the narrative nature of this mode gives you some incentive to progress all the way to the end, the levels are disappointingly homogeneous, and you may well decide not to bother.

All you're required to do in Survival mode is dispatch a relentless stream of randomly-distributed bubbles until you finally get overwhelmed. Vainly holding failure at bay is a fairly underwhelming experience, but since many mobile puzzlers feature this mode and nothing else, you have to give iWin credit for effort. If nothing else, Survival makes a good practice mode.

Puzzle is the best of the play modes. Here, you get a set amount of bubbles to fire and a set amount clinging in formation to the ceiling. While most of Inca Quest walks a line between arcade and puzzle, testing both your accuracy under pressure and your perspicacity, Puzzle mode leans agreeably towards the puzzle extreme, requiring you think to laterally in order to make rebounds and spark chain reactions.

Big Kahuna Reef is similarly a game about bringing identical objects into collision and making them disappear. You play a diver sifting through the rich ecosystem of a tropical reef. Marine objects and creatures are arranged in a grid over a formation of crates, and you have to remove these crates against the clock by aligning three of the objects above them.

Big Kahuna Reef employs a fairly unusual control system. As in Living Mobile's Rubik's Bloxx Twister, you have a paddle that hovers over two objects at a time and swaps them over. In Kahuna, however, they return elastically to their original position if you don't manage to bring them into collision with a cluster.

The result is a difficult game in which, since you're not able to shuffle things around until you hit paydirt, you have to think carefully before making your move.

As such, Big Kahuna Reef is a much more serious, ruminative puzzle challenge than its colourful appearance suggests, but the limits imposed on you by the rubber-band control system are as claustrophobically constrictive as they are challenging, and after a while the game starts to feel suspiciously like a failed experiment.

And so there we have it. A so-so Incan shampoo and a middling marine conditioner. While both are fine, neither is going to produce a glossy gaming thrill. But what happens when we mix them together?

Well, 2-4-1 Fun Quest is a good idea. For the cost of an average game, iPlay gives you two average games, and while they shouldn't draw your eyes away from the top rank of mobile puzzlers, this package makes most of the lesser majority redundant.

2-4-1 Fun Quest

A touch more than the sum of its parts, 2-4-1 Fun Quest is a commercially astute package, representing excellent value for those prepared to settle for a double-helping of second best
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