I wonder if we’ll still be playing games like Colorful Colore thirty years from now. It’s a slide-puzzle game, very much the Legend of Zelda-kind where you tap left, right, up or down and slide your character until it hits an obstacle. It’s a brand of puzzle game that’s been around for at least thirty years, much like box-pushing puzzle games, and you wouldn’t bet against them surviving for many decades to come, like cockroaches. But if we’re being honest, how many different sliding puzzles can there possibly be, and surely we’re at the point of recycling them by now?
Colorful Colore does at least have a quirk. While you are still doing the time-honoured action of sliding around an arena in the attempt to reach an exit, Colorful Colore introduces… colour. The clue was in the title. Twice.
So, sliding arenas are broken into multiple different colours. Your character, a little bug-eyed blob, also has a colour. If you’re a different colour from the block you’re crashing into then, well, you kick the bucket and have to start the round over. Luckily, there are icons that act like paint pots, and they can convert you to the right colour moments before you slam into a death-dealing red block.
As gimmicks go, it’s an easy one to understand. We came in cynical, thinking that it would be a fancy way of saying there are spikes in the level (and we’ve played plenty of sliding puzzles with death and spikes). But there’s more to it than that: the level shifts from being safe to dangerous and vice versa with a switch in colour, and that’s more interesting than a level stacked with spikes. It also allows for cool moments where you strobe through multiple colours with a single slide, and that can feel pretty cool.
Colorful Colore also does the service of providing some funky traps and box types. You’re not just shuttling around a room of crates: there are portals, keys, redirection arrows and more. The levels don’t drop these down for effect, either. They lean on them heavily to create unusual moments, like a level roughly mid-way that aligns all of its redirection arrows so that you’re zipping round the level like you’re a Jamaican bobsled team. Generally, the level and puzzle design is good, never quite duplicating a solution, and emphasising the stuff that makes Colorful Colore different, rather than the same as every other slidey puzzle in the universe.
But therein lies the rub. A sliding puzzle game, no matter how much you dress it up in gimmicks and fancy blocks, often snaps back to being a plain old sliding puzzle game. You’re still doing one of two things: taking it move by move, going in one of the few directions that doesn’t lead to death, or reverse-engineering the solution, looking for the only position that will lead to the exit, and then getting there. And that’s how we’ve played every sliding puzzle since time immemorial. We feel we’ve spent enough time in that rut.
Part of the problem is that Colorful Colore is slimline, which means there’s no room for different modes, multiplayer, collectibles, performance-stars or anything really, which would have at least differentiated it or given us something new to do. It means you’re working with the same discrete, solo puzzles that every sliding-puzzle game ever has. Even with the frippery of power-ups and the colour-switching, Colorful Colore feels achingly familiar.
It’s also not very long. I completed Colorful Colore in the time it took for my wife to run upstairs and put my daughter back to bed after she’d woken up. As you can imagine, that’s not particularly long. We’re talking about forty-five minutes all in all, and you’ll be achieving 1000G in just under fifteen of it. That’ll be a selling point for some, of course.
At least the presentation is bouncy and endearing, if not particularly testing of the old Xbox. It’s crisp but simple, looking like a Spectrum ZX classic made fully HD. With the simple gameplay, you could probably convince a mate that Colorful Colore is exactly that. The soundtrack is jolly and not too repetitive, so the presentation does slightly more than ‘doing the job’.
‘Doing the job’ could be Colorful Colore’s mantra. Sliding puzzle games are stale as they come, but Colorful Colore does just enough to liven it up with a central colour-changing mechanic and some unusual blocks and pressure pads. You’d be hard-pushed to fill an hour with Colorful Colore, and even harder-pushed to find a reason to replay, but if you’re in the market for some nostalgia with a few modern ideas, then yep, it does the job.
You can buy Colorful Colore for £4.19 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S