Votes: 5
Reviews: 1

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Reviewer: SlowMotionRiot Date: Jan 15, 2002
The thing that's always amazed me about the NES is that such incredibly fun games can be created while the player uses only a total of four buttons and eight directions. I'm sure that a lot of today's game designers could learn a thing or two--or at least get a gentle reminder--if they picked up an old NES game and started playing it for a little while. That being said, however, I would not recommend they play Palamedes to be reminded about playability. Although the overall package is desirable--a casino- or circus-themed puzzle game along the same lines as Tetris--it doesn't play as well as it should.

Graphics: 5
The graphics are everything expected. The icons for the dice are clear and easily discernible, the characters cute and anime-inspired, and the backgrounds of the puzzle board are not too eye-jarring. Nothing really stands out as remarkable or noteworthy; you would expect that eventually--after completing a few levels or so--that you'd get some kind of payoff in the eye-candy department, but it just doesn't happen. It gets quite repetitive after a while.

Sound: 6
The sound effects, and especially the music, really set the theme for the game. It reminds me of a casino--probably going along with the dice theme as well--or a circus or something. And the music doesn't stick out and occupy your mind...This is essential in a puzzle game where you just need to zone out an focus on getting that next combination down pat or recover from being stacked up by your opponent. The other sound effects are from the original NES stock warehouse of bleeps and pings. least you'll know when someting happens.

Gameplay: 8
Gameplay is a mixed bag here. First off, the controls are a bit strange, and after a while it can be incredibly frustrating. Multiplayer makes this game a good one, though.
The object of the game is to work off the descending rows of dice before they touch the bottom of the screen, where your little character is. You do this by choosing the dice block held by your character and shooting at a matching dice block in one of the rows. Once you hit a match, that dice block just hit is placed in your ""reservoir"" found below your character. In addition to taking out single blocks at a time, you can take out entire rows of dice by ""cashing in"" your reservior when you've collected particular combinations. Here's a quick summary of the available controls:
Left or Right on the D-pad: Moves your character left or right.
B Button: Cycles through the dice blocks.
A Button: Collect a matching dice block, place it in your reservoir.
Down on the D-pad: ""Cashes in"" your reservoir.
All of this can get kind of maddening to the player, especially when you need to make some quick moves; play for a while and you'll understand what I mean. A frustrating aspect of the controls is that you can only cycle through the list of dice blocks one way; if you accidentally skip over the one you need, you need to cycle through them all over again. An alternative would be to make the two buttons cycle the dice blocks back and forth, then use the Up direction for collecting the dice. But this game was made back in 1990, and my time machine is in the repair shop at the moment. Sorry.
Two-player simultaneous games are the saving grace of Palamedes. The player can go against a computer opponent in Tournament mode, or two human players can go head-to-head. The added wrinkle of this mode is that whenever one player cashes in their reservoir, any rows they eliminate are added to the other player's board. This makes for some fast, furious, and downright merciless two-player games. And fun, too.

Overall: 7
To sum it up, lackluster controls make this game too complex for it's own good. It's still a very, very fun game when you have head-to-head competitions, so find yourself another player that can look past the control shortcomings and have at each other for an hour or so. This game was the harbinger for games like Tetris Atack, in my opinion, both with the dice combination factor and the two-player ""death matches"" presented.
On an aside note, I think the publisher--Hot B--was great. In addition to making some fine games, they always put the basic instructions on the front of their game paks to help those of us without manuals. :) They did Shingen the Ruler as well, another fine game from a totally different genre; war strategy fans should check that out.

I found this game at my local used game shop for less than four dollars American. If you've got a working system and two functioning controllers--as well as a healthy action-puzzle addiction--than this one just might be for you. Fans of Tetris Attack and Pokemon Puzzle League may also be in for a treat.
For the benefit of those without a manual or Game Pak to learn of the possible combinations, here's a quick breakdown of the necessary combination and the number of rows you'll eliminate:
3 of a kind: 1 Row
5 of a kind: 3 Rows
3 Continuous numbers (2, 3, 4 or 3, 4, 5 for example): 1 Row
5 Continuous numbers (see above): 3 Rows
3 Pairs (2, 2, 4, 4, 1, 1 for example): 3 Rows
Straight Flush ( numbers 1 through 6 in order): 5 Rows
Black Jack (numbers add up to 21): 1 Row; Straight Flush is Black Jack
Combinations are possible: Combining pairs, three of a kind, or Black Jack, etc.