PEGBJRE: Lizzi Crossing and Oh No! Bugs!

Oh uh. Hi? These games are top down, that’s a similarity.

Fusions never felt so exploratory

Lizzi Crossing is a puzzle fusion title made by Eva Lee, an indie dev making bite sized titles out of the United States. This title has our little adventurer friend braving a land full of tall grasses in the hopes of finding the exit, but fearing that they may step across spiked mines. Thankfully, there’s some lovely hints through numbers to give a bit of a confidence boost.

The fusion here is the usage of a Minesweeper grid with the side notations of a Nonogram. While I was familiar with Minesweeper — thanks, Windows — Nonograms weren’t something I was completely with which my lack of familiarity surprised me. To refresh everyone’s memories, Nonograms are a ‘colour by number’ style of logic grid puzzle to which the goal is to find the picture hidden in the numbers by colouring in the grids that correspond with the numbers in the rows and columns. Similar to how Minesweeper needs players to deduce mine locations with numbers in the grid, Nonograms need players to connect where coloured squares can be by combining the logical facts of the column and row numbers.

So how does this translate in to this title? Well, players are looking for stairs that lead downwards, which are seen counted on the right hand side, but must explore by stepping in to each square of grass. On the board itself, the numbers highlight how many mines are in contact with the tile of the number — including diagonals — which then requires players to logically figure out where the mines are to avoid them. The assistance is in the form of the side numbers, who state the ‘orientation’ of the mines, or how they are grouped together reading from left to right or top to bottom. For example, a row of ‘2’ means that the two mines in that row are side by side, whereas a row of ‘1 1 1’ means that there are 3 mines in the row but they are individually apart. Instead of these numbers being what we wish to paint, it’s the exact opposite; we are attempting to avoid where the groupings are at all costs. Since blank spaces don’t magically reveal all connecting blanks like in Minesweeper, carefully stepping on each space can be important to figuring out what path actually works best. Thanks to both sets of hints, however, it completely removes the biggest issue Minesweeper has: some logic feels like it can only be solved with luck. There are always a few instances where there just isn’t enough information to go on, and players simply have to make a guess between two and hope they aren’t wrong. This usually occurs due to hyperfixation on a certain location on the grid, but can also occur if the order selected by the player is done ‘incorrectly. Of course there’s no incorrect order, it’s procedurally generated; but some will naturally corner them in to believing that it is. Thanks to the Nonogram hints on the side, players can make better assumptions and remove much of the fear that comes with the randomness.

Make no mistake, players still can and will get stumped while playing Lizzi Crossing. The little character cannot just magically fly out of the spaces to try in a different region, meaning that where ever the starting square is, we’ve got to deal with it. Guesswork is still going to be occurring depending on your level of enjoyment and engagement with number logic puzzles, but again thanks to the duality of the hints it has been mitigated to more ‘Hail Mary’ plays than Minesweeper. There’s also the ability to ‘!’ by right clicking, allowing for a square to be deemed not safe and disallow the character to accidentally walk on to it, greatly helping my attempts to get farther. It brings a certain charm with this as well, as I can simply explore this world and solve its mine-based puzzles just like I would do with Minesweeper; open it when I have a few moments, play for a bit, and then return back to work. It’s the perfect down time game to just stretch the brain for bit, and if that’s what you’re wanting right now then you’ve got one right here.

Oh No! Bugs! is a multiplayer action-puzzle game made by Doomster Entertainment, the solo dev that brought us the title This Strange Realm of Mine earlier on in the bundle. Unlike before where things were a narrative surrealism, this time we are bug smashers, destined to smash bugs and hopefully avoid getting smashed.

Players will choose and customize their tanks before entering the arena, a maze-like area viewed from the top down full of blocks and bugs. The tanks themselves are ill equipped to defeat these bugs, but the blocks sure aren’t; they can crush anything they touch if moved, which is precisely how to play the game. Interacting with a block will cause it to move in the direction the tank is facing and refusing to stop until it hits a wall. If a bug is in between, the bug is squished and the points go to the player who pushed that block. If the block cannot be moved in the direction requested, it darkens its shade once and if players interact with it again, it is destroyed to allow for maneuverability and space. The issue comes at the cost of what happens when a block hits a wall and hasn’t hit anything yet, for it bounces off that wall and begins its motion back in the opposite direction it was sent; after all, there was nothing in its path to slow it down. This is easily the fastest way a player can accidentally kill themselves, for just a simple miss can bounce the block back faster than can be reacted to and the round ends for that specific individual.

Now that doesn’t mean the game is completely over, for player each have 3 lives to work with, but once all bugs are destroyed (or all players) the next map is loaded and players attempt to destroy the bugs (or each other) again. While the map changes, the overall gameplay directive is the same, allowing for players to understand what might have gone wrong the last time and correct towards surviving longer. Other things to note on each map are golden coins, which allow for players to buy customization perks such as new grils to truly make that tank shine while it squishes bugs.

Oh No! Bugs! is a fun little twist on multiplayer titles since technically players don’t get to actively destroy each other, but instead need to manipulate the map itself to do so. Each round doesn’t last very long, but in that sweet spot that allows for constant replayability since death is quick unless there’s a certain player that’s really good and keeps outlasting everyone else. If you are in need to a new multiplayer title, then try this one out.

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