Why? That brings us to the third point: combos. If you don’t get into the habit of nailing these, you can forget about playing to the likes of Metallica, Dragonforce, Children of Bodom, Slayer, Iron Maiden and all those other crazy fast but superbly awesome artists on medium or high difficulty. So how do we pull off combos? Simple – you try and select three or more blocks of as many colour types as you can before you blast the living daylights out of ‘em. So again, unlike Bejeweled and others, you’re not just getting rid of any one colour at a time, but you have the possibility of taking out a set of all four colours with one click of the right mouse button. This scores you some massive points as well as significantly more real estate on the game board, and you’re going to need both if you want to get featured on the online leaderboards.
And lastly, we have the special powerups. As you play through a track and pull off combos, you fill the “SP” meter until it starts glowing, signaling that it’s ready for action. Thereafter, clicking outside the game board activates the powerup, and good stuff comes your way to save your sorry backside. These have to be unlocked first though, and each one has a condition to be met first, but the majority of them are fairly simple to earn. There are four basic powerups and one unique powerup for each game mode (Freeplay, Ascend and Descend), giving you a total of seven to unlock. They include Wildcard blocks (change to any coloured block), Roulette (destroys all blocks of a randomly chosen colour), Bank (stores incoming blocks for later use), and some others which I’ll leave for you to discover.
Oh and good stuff isn’t all that you’ll see all the time; contrary to these nice powerups, there are time bomb blocks which if not matched and destroyed before the countdown expires, explode and produce a bunch of “black blocks” – empty spaces that can’t be occupied by any colours for a short period of time…short enough to make you fail if you have more than two or three occurrences on harder difficulties and faster songs.
Alright, so that’s plenty of decent stuff about the gameplay and how it’s not just Bejeweled with blocks and a custom playlist, but there are two gripes I do have with Turba: the presentation and the repetitiveness. All the menus and the file browser interface seem a bit shoddy and quite cluttered, and the game board itself is nothing fancy at all. The graphics are nowhere near some of the high-def visuals exhibited by other indie games, and the game doesn’t offer any options to tweak them either, save for fullscreen or windowed mode. And then there’s the question of replayability. Sure, there’s lots to be had if you plan to run the game through half your music library, but the big question is: will you? I don’t really think so. Unless you’re one of those leaderboard or achievement fanatics, you will find little to no reason to come back once the initial novelty has worn off, except maybe for the occasional casual game or two when you’re sick of all the mainstream stuff or have ten minutes in between a busy schedule. And not that this is any fault of the developers, but to keep facts straight and be honest, there are other indie titles out there which can give you some great gameplay and solid replay value for the same price.
To give credit where it’s due, Turba does bring some innovation to the table with its beat detection system, fast-paced gameplay and unique mechanics. However in terms of overall quality, it does let down a wee bit, especially since we’re now accustomed to seeing much better stuff for the same price tag. The sheer lack of anything to do once you’re done unlocking the powerups and once the novelty has worn off might put most people off, but if you’re the type who absolutely loves these sorts of games or loves persisting in their efforts of getting onto leaderboards and unlocking every single achievement available, then rest assured – you’ll get your money’s worth here.