Candle Route is a game where you lead Sparky, a flame, though different puzzles in order to collect matches, which will be used to light candles. The story here is that Sparky has been given the task to bring light to the Crayon Castle before nightfall. In order to fulfill this task, he must collect a certain amount of “Match Babies” for each “Candle Man,” whose required number is listed in front of him. Because time is apparently an issue, you’re limited on how many “moves” you can make, and for some reason, the game uses golf terms (e.g. par, bogey) to describe how well you’re doing. Using the stylus, you pick somewhere on the map to go (it plants a flag) and Sparky takes the most efficient route to that spot, picking up Match Babies located in any boxes adjacent to his path. You can’t place a flag anywhere that has something (e.g. Match Babies) on it, making the game a bit more difficult. If you have too much trouble with a level you can use up to two hints to help you. You can also replay levels you failed; the game is nice enough to put an x on squares you tried already so you’re not retracing the game strategy every time.
Candle Route looks different than most games that populate the eShop. Basically, it looks like a child scribbled it with crayons. It’s bright, it’s endearing, and it’s fun. The music and sound effects, however, are a lot less cute. I turned the sound off after about ten minutes. It’s not that the sound effects or music were poorly composed/executed; it’s actually well-done. My main issue with it is that it sounded like it came off a Kids’ Sing-A-Long CD or something, like I needed to pop in Disney Sing A long Songs: 101 Dalmations or some other VHS tape from my childhood, in order to complete the experience. Needless to say, I found more suitable music to play along with.
While the game is quirky and has an interesting style to it, I ultimately wasn’t terribly impressed with Side A. The game is an original enough concept, but it seems to be lacking something that makes me truly excited to play it. I found myself playing it in short bursts and not having any desire to pick it up again, aside from the desire to play enough of it to review it. This game is probably better suited for a younger audience who might find the puzzles more challenging – and therefore more rewarding – and the music catchy enough.
The regular levels weren’t particularly interesting for me, but the alternate levels were much better. For every set of levels, there’s one Special Stage where your goal is to collect all the flames, which is a nice break from the monotony. There’s also another section, Side B, which is basically the same as Side A, but instead of bringing Match Babies to Candle Men, your job is to bring them to rockets on a map that is only selectively lit. Bringing Match Babies to the rockets will increase your speed, but it also seems like it decreases your responsiveness. Instead of hitting places on the touch screen, you’ll use the D-pad in order to move Sparky. This Side was challenging in the right places, and I almost wish the whole game had been like this.
As far as value for the game goes, however, you really can’t go wrong, if you like puzzles. This game is roughly $2, and if you would like something like this, it’s got like 200 levels, coming out to about one cent per level max. It’s pretty likely you’ll like at least one of the two sides.
Control and Gameplay: GREAT
Appeal Factor: GOOD
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
So how do you make a game about collecting matches interesting? The short answer is it’s really, really difficult, and Candle Route doesn’t really succeed. By all means, it looks like a cute game, but ends up being a bit boring. For being worth $2, having over 100 levels is great news, but I found myself unable to stay engaged with Side A; however, Side B was much more enjoyable for me. It’s a good thing you don’t have to complete Side A in order to get to Side B, because truth be told I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep interest long enough to discover Side B if that were the case.