Thursday, April 12, 2012
Treasures of Montezuma Blitz - Free....at a Price
So, this last Playstation Store Update brought several things worth of note to the store; the most pressing of them being Persona 3: FES. It....also brought the game pictured above known as Treasures of Montezuma Blitz which touted itself as a Free-to-Play game. And to its credit, it certainly is free to download it and play it which does, of course, mean that it is Free-to-Play. It successfully fulfills the parameters that it sets in advertising itself in not only that, but in announcing itself as a fast-paced puzzle game that you can play on the Vita. All of this is, indeed, truth. So there really shouldn't be any problem and I guess the next couple of paragraphs will be explaining how it plays and everything ri-oh, that post title isn't good.
So, while the above picture is how you can expect Treasures of Montezuma Blitz to look whilst playing it, that visage doesn't last long. Long before the short stints the game allows (which I will elaborate on a little bit later) become truly satisfying and enjoyable, you'll undoubtedly encounter this screen which is basically a gigantic brick wall between you and some sense of elation that you can only get from playing a game. I'm sure you already know where I'm going with this, but let me direct you to this image real quick to say two things. First off, tangentially, look how fucking good I am at this game. 36,800 points where my next competition is 6,700 - feels good, man. Second off, and this is the important bit, slightly above my score and to the left, you'll notice five heart outlines; as you might be able to infer, these are the 'lives' the game requires to allow you to play it. As you might also be able to infer, to continue playing in a day past this limitation requires you to buy more lives. With real money. I believe the going rate is $0.99 per refill (which I also imagine refills all five lives, not just one.) which....is not cheap at all.
You see, Treasures of Montezuma Blitz can basically be explained like this: Do you like Bejeweled but hate how the rounds seem to go on forever? Then you'll love this game! That does seem a little strange and intentionally so because the earlier statement of 'fast-paced' is certainly literal - matches go by really fast to say the least. I'm sure if I bothered to time them, they would only come up as one or two minutes, thus not really allowing a lot of time for anything beyond short bursts of jewel-shifting in chunks that have to be budgeted per day. At every point in considering that statement, I had to wonder "Why wouldn't you just....buy a Bejeweled game?" and the only reason against it is the fact that Bejeweled does not exist on the Vita yet, so of course we're just left with someone trying to profit in the meanwhile.
I can't fault them of course, nor can I say that the game is bad because it, in itself, is not. What makes it bad is the lack of enjoyment it offers, because this freemium thing is the quickest way to suck the fun out of anything, especially when the 'free' portion of it is so lacking. The reason why the freemium model works elsewhere, particularly in Facebook games with the variety of -ville titles and the like is because those games generally offer a lean-to-healthy amount of things to 'do' without forking over a cent. As I said here with Montezuma, the matches seem to last a mere 1-2 minutes and, doing a little quick math, that means with the five lives you get, you're looking at somewhere between 5-10 minutes of content a day. The way it's broken up doesn't help either since, as a Facebook might only offer somewhere around 15 minutes, it's a constant 15 minutes which makes it feel longer in some circumstances. Montezuma's shortness leads to a sort of 'blink and you'll miss it' feel for it, and I think it really only works in its own detriment.
Am I saying that The Treasures of Montezuma Blitz is a bad game, however? Of course not, it's a fairly by-the-numbers clone of an enjoyable game. There are some Vita-specific things involving the touch screens in interesting, yet annoying ways (having a smoky screen, for instance, necessitates using the back screen to try and part the smoke while you look for combinations that will, in turn, lessen the cover) that take away/add to the flavor, but it's pretty much just what it looks like. I would even go so far as to say that it probably requires a download of your own to see if it's worth those 5-10 minutes of your day for you. What do you have to lose, after all? I'm merely saying that it doesn't really work for me, for the reasons I've listed above. At the very least, it might hold you over until a more capable puzzle game of this sort graces the little handheld I can't help but love.