Surge Deluxe

FuturLab is the developer of Surge Deluxe. FuturLab claims that the game is a highly polished Vita version of its 2012 PlayStation Mobile title Surge.

But that simply can't be.

Because from the way it handles and the way it looks, it appears to be a high-definition port of a long-forgotten puzzler from the arcades, consoles, and handhelds of the late '80s.

Regardless, the fact of the matter is that Surge Deluxe is essential handheld gaming. Put simply, FuturLab has meticulously constructed one hell of an addictive game here.

Making Lynx

Forget those analogue sticks and buttons on either side of your Vita's screen - you'll only be needing the touchscreen for Surge Deluxe.

You connect different neon blocks together here. The only pre-requisites are that each chain must contain blocks of the same colour and that one side of them is exposed when you match them.

By connecting these blocks, you remove them from the field of play. As you may have already guessed, your goal is to completely clear all of the blocks.

Pressure cooker

In a neat visual metaphor, the pressure that is mounting on you to complete a stage is indicated by a pressure bar either side of the screen. You can release this pressure by opening two identically coloured vents opposite each other, but these vents are almost always obstructed by blocks that you have to remove first.

Should you successfully open these vents and match similarly coloured blocks, you'll receive a point bonus.

There are plenty of other bonus opportunities for the fast-fingered and quick-witted gamer here. As such, FuturLab transforms Surge Deluxe from an enjoyable timewaster into a serious drain on your free time.

You might find a multiplier block, for example, that you can work into your chain, tripling your score. Or perhaps you'll spot a Chain Linker, enabling you to match blocks of another colour after you've passed through it. Or maybe you'll grab the Frenzy Block, which changes all blocks into the same colour.

Trimming the fat

You'll need to utilise all these special blocks and keep a cool head to get anywhere near the top of the online (global and local) high score leaderboards.

Hesitate for too long or make one too many mistakes during the thread-the-needle gameplay, and it's Game Over in a matter of moments. Once you've mastered the main game, you can tackle the Puzzle Mode. Here, you'll encounter brainteasers that you have to solve quickly and for the highest scores.

Play is frenetic, obscenely colourful, and devoid of fluff. It's entirely forgiveable to forget you're looking at a 2014 release, and instead think that you're playing a top arcade puzzler of yesteryear. You know, the kind that use to come from Sega, SNK, and Capcom.

With a bright and bold look, and with expertly balanced gameplay, Surge Deluxe is your new favourite puzzle game on Vita.

Surge Deluxe

Energetic, exuberant, and engaging: Surge Deluxe is a puzzler from an earlier time... and is all the better for it
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.