• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatAtari 8-bit
PublisherFlop Magazine
ReviewJeff and Frank

Main review

Flash games are a bit of a mixed blessing aren’t they? On one hand you get people going back to the older style of gaming, where there had to actually be a game involved but, on the other hand, the games are usually rushed, often bad conversions of good games.

What we have here is a Flash game. It’s been converted over to the Atari, and it’s got some nice little bells and whistles on. Oh, and it’s called Hexxagon XE. It starts out with a sort of intro at the start which doesn’t really do very much or look impressive and seems to be there for the hell of it, but once you’ve pressed the “any” key you’re into the main menu. And what a good little menu it is too, it’s just one screen with a really lovely catchy little theme tune playing in the background. Graphically it’s very well presented, there’s a nice display of what the options are for the next game and a pretty Hexxagon XE logo. It’s clean and clear and it gives a real air of professionalism. After choosing the layout of the board and an opponent (the computer interestingly has three levels of difficulty), a gentle tap on the start button sends you on your merry way.

And that’s where it all sort of falls down a bit, because you see, it’s based on a pretty dull sort of flash game. Hexxagon is one of those property-taking-over type games, like Othello (or Reversi as its sometimes known), but less fun. Each player moves on the grid made up of hexagons (hence the name) by either getting a new piece next to any other piece or making on of their pieces jump over a single hexagon. Any opponents pieces next to the piece you just move become yours, and then your opponent takes their turn. The player with the most pieces at the end wins. The problem is that because territory battles come down to jumping pieces over and over again, the games can take a long time and never actually get anywhere, and far more so than Othello, once you start losing, that’s pretty much it.

It’s also quite noticeable that while the start screen was all lovely and nice with good music, the game itself seems a bit empty with no animation when pieces are taken and fairly clunky sound effects. It really needs something, a bit of music, some sort of explosive animation when you take a piece, or even a text scroller down the bottom, just something to give it a bit of life.

In the end it’s a nicely presented package which makes the best from a fairly weak game, but the real problem with Hexxagon XE is that it fails to give a good reason why you should bother starting up an emulator (or the real thing), waiting for the game to load and then playing, when you can play exactly the same game with better graphics and a faster way of selecting your moves in Flash.

Second opinion

If there was one thing that really narked me off in the past with homebrew releases, was the constant flow of puzzle games and little else. With the countless Tetris and “match the tile” games, Hexxagon is a welcome break from this trend and provides something a little different in the puzzle genre.

I haven’t played Othello or Reversi or know what is involved, but I can relate Hexxagon to Draughts (or Checkers) in terms of similarity. In a way, Hexxagon does what Mastertronic’s Angleball did in that it took a typical game of Pool and stuck it on a oddly-shaped table. You and the opposition take turns in moving counters on a somewhat “Blockbusters”-looking board. Based on where your counters are situated, you can add a new counter into a space situated around it. If in that position are opposition counters, then these get taken over by your counters. Yourself and opposition (computer or human opponent) take turns in positioning new counters until eventually you wipe out one another. It’s a simple concept, but good fun (especially with a second player) but is that really enough?

For a simple game, you hope for that little bit extra in other departments to give it extra polish – and sadly this is where Hexxagon falls. From what is a promising start with an excellent title screen with some truly awesome music pushing the Atari hard, the game itself is kept relatively simple and conservative. As Jeff mentions, the in-game sounds are a bit of a let down after the excellent title track and it would be great to hear another track or some more inspiring sound effects. Additionally, there are no special effects or visually appealing graphics and everything is kept rather functional and simple.

You could however argue that presentation doesn’t matter too much, and you’d be right – but playability wise, it is not a game which is going to keep you hooked for days. Options are limited, and there just isn’t that much variety and hookability in this game to keep you coming back for more. Hexxagon will provide plenty of fun for a good few hours, maybe more if you can find a second player to play against. Give it a try and see what you think.