Caboodle
Reviewed by Michelle Thurlow
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-10-15 PC Puzzle RP (Rating Pending) Indiepath Games

What first drew my attention to the demo for Indie Games' latest offering Caboodle was the publicity blurb stating that the game's mechanics were reminiscent of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's modern classic for the PSP, Lumines. As I gave a favorable review of the latter just a couple of months ago, I was anxious to discover what Indie's reincarnation of the industry's latest formula for puzzle games would offer Tetris addicts like me.

Now, I knew that there would be some stylistic similarities between the two titles, especially since Caboodle's press has emphasized that its gameplay was definitely designed to recall that of Mizuguchi-san's Lumines. However, as I ran the demo and started to groove, I was amazed that copyright laws haven't prevented this Lumines clone from being published. Saying that Caboodle is comparable in concept to Lumines is akin to noting that Mary Kate bears a certain resemblance to Ashley Olsen. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Mizuguchi must be blushing twelve shades of red right now, muttering something falsely humble like, "Aw, shucks."

Caboodle's promoters boast that the game offers two exciting modes of play - Casual and Classic - but I couldn't tell the difference between the two. With that in mind, I will go on to speak about the gameplay of the title as a whole, seeing as my comments will be relevant to my assessment of the entertainment value of both options.

As I've hinted previously, the basics of this game are virtually identical to those of Lumines: dual-colored blocks fall down on to the play field from the top of the screen, and it is the player's challenge to create boxes out of the garbage that is tossed at the player. Caboodlers are rewarded for creating as many on-screen boxes as possible by earning bonus points and sweet combo multipliers.

Just like in Lumines, these newly-formed squares don't automatically disappear once assembled. A gauge on the left hand side of the heads-up display indicates when the CPU will eliminate any and all "completes" constructed on the screen. Similarly, in Lumines, a vertical boundary referred to as a "time-line" moves from left to right on the play field, sweeping away any 2 x 2 quadrates it encounters. The only difference between these two methods of removing completes is that Caboodle's CPU eliminates all on-screen squares simultaneously, whereas the time-line in Lumines extracts completes only from left to right.

Admittedly, Caboodle isn't quite entirely a rip-off of the PSP hit in some other ways as well. In fact, in certain aspects, Indie Games has managed to advance the mechanics of this puzzle format by adding some interesting gameplay twists and improvements. Certainly anyone who has ever played Lumines would agree that there was a sad dearth of power-ups available in the game, and in Caboodle that lack is filled. Yellow bombs in Caboodle aid the player by detonating all blocks of a similar color linked to it, while red bombs blast away any nearby blocks regardless of color. Also, players can earn extra points by creating completes with gems hidden therein.

One area however where Lumines clearly outclasses Caboodle is in the "cool" factor; in this respect, there's no contest - Lumines shines out like a supermodel among marginally trendy high school students. Lumines' graphics ooze a campy, cheeky style that could only come from Mizuguchi, while the extent of Caboodle's chic is limited to symbols used in a card deck to differentiate suits. Both games' soundtracks are great though, judging from the few songs I heard on the Caboodle demo.

In the end, Caboodle is a great game... but then so is Lumines. Caboodle's gameplay spices up the block-forming mechanics of Lumines by adding some much-needed power-ups, but Lumines offers many more play modes, including the necessary Versus option. I also have a soft spot for Lumines because it is an original, or as unique as any post-Tetris puzzle game can be these days. Why not go ahead and buy both games? That way you'll have the whole kit and Caboodle.

Minimum System Requirements:
  • 300 MHZ Intel or AMD Processor
  • Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP
  • DirectX 7.0 or OpenGL compatible video chipset

Note: Indiepath Games has also released another Lumines variation called C'Bubble, which is basically Caboodle with an underwater theme. Check it out at http://www.cbubble.indiepath.com/