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Sony Influences PSP With New Puzzle Game

The makers of the I.Q. series release their latest mind bending puzzler this month.


Sony Computer Entertainment Japan is readying a new puzzle game for PSP. Titled "Influence" the direct download title is in development at G Game Workshop, a studio formed by Masahiko Sato, creator of the puzzle game series I.Q..

In Influence, you find yourself placed on a three-by-three set of discs. These discs are known as cells. Cubes have fallen onto the cells. Your goal is to clear the cells of these cubes.

This is where your special power known as "Influence" comes into play. Influence is used to clear cubes. You have access to multiple levels of Influence, and you can freely choose which level you want to cast and the cell from which you want to cast it. Level 1 will clear one cube in the cell you're currently in. Level 2 will clear two cubes in your cell, and will also spread out as Influence level 1 on all neighboring cells, clearing one cube from each of them. Level 3 will clear three cubes in your current cell, and will spread out as Influence level 2 on neighboring cells and Influence level 1 on cells neighboring those cells.

Each time a cube is cleared via Influence, it's possible that more cubes will pop out on the reverse side of the cells. The number of cubes that appear on the flip side is the level of the Influence that you cast on the cell minus the number of cubes that were originally in the cell. So, for example, if you cast a level 2 Influence on a cell with 2 cubes, you won't get any cubes popping up on the flip side. If you cast level 2 on a cell with one cube however, you'll end up with one cube popping up on the reverse side. When you consider that the Influence moves spread to neighboring cells, you can probably see how if you're not careful you could end up with some messy cube formations.

In general, the game requires that you clear two or more cubes simultaneously. However, you have access to a limited number of "Power of One" moves which allow you to clear individual cubes. You can also ask the game for hints on how to proceed.

Providing some incentive to speed through the level is a time limit. As long as you're within the time limit, you can choose to retry the stage. However, as you approach the time limit, a ring, known as the "Dead Ring," will appear around the play field. This will slowly collapse, taking the stage with it and bringing an end to the game.

As with all puzzlers, Influence will probably need to be played to be fully understood. At the very least, being able to see screenshots wouldn't hurt. Expect pics to appear later this week.

Those who master the core mechanics will find a couple of high level modes of play. In Reserve Mode, you have to set the level and location of your Influence uses in advance. This means that you won't be able to see how each Influence move affects the stage, so you'll need to be able to think in advance. Challenge Mode gives you 100 stages. The time limit is removed, and you don't have access to Power of One moves and hints.

The game also has a somewhat unique -- unique for a puzzle game, at least -- way of adding extra difficulty. You have access to three different characters. Depending on the character, the difficulty changes.

These characters have stories. Fay is a medical researcher who began having strange dreams after she started dating a guy a few years back. Tanaka is a diplomat with language abilities in Russian, English and Japanese. Influenced by his grandfather, he has an ambition of some form. The third character has to be unlocked by clearing the game.

Interested in giving Influence a try? Although just announced in this week's Famitsu, the game is being readied for release on May 27 at ¥800. If Sony's handling of Echcochrome is any indication, there will likely be a demo so that you can get sucked into the play mechanics before you buy.

[Update 11:17 -- Famitsu.com has posted a few screens of Influence.]

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