Hi, Cheese!!! has enough cheese to keep the mouse out of trouble

Posted: August 25, 2009 in Puzzle

Have you ever had a bag of Cheetoh’s or Cheez Its and felt like you needed more? Now you know how Cooky feels. He’s the little furry dude in Hi, Cheese!!!, an innovative, original puzzle game that combines the simple concept of tile shuffling with the challenge that comes with a maze. Solid gameplay and requiring a bit of quick thinking and dexterity, the game is almost a must if you’re a puzzler at heart looking for big or small doses of satisfaction (or in my case frustration from not being able to solve puzzles fast enough).

In Hi, Cheese, the objective is help Cooky collect all the High Cheese wedges located along the floor and then lead him to the exit. Of course, Cooky isn’t the most street smart rodent in the world so he’ll need help avoiding obstacles or even finding the exit if it’s not directly in front of him. Your job is move around floor panels to create a path for him as he waddles along. The game offers 50 progressively difficult rooms many of which are unlocked based on the number of High Cheese collected. In addition, 3 mini games are included—Concentration, Rock Paper Scissors, and Roulette—which can be played at any time and provide a good change of scenery from the core game.

Illustrated through an opening series of cut scenes, the story takes place in Rat Land where everything is cherrio until one day, the humans come to town to build. The building creates earthquakes and thus havoc, basically destroying Rat Land. Cooky takes it upon himself to rescue everyone. In order to gain special powers, he must eat High Cheese which are scattered throughout Rat Land.

Cooky has a one-track mind, constantly moving on his own to collect every bit of High Cheese. Thankfully, the touch-based controls are responsive and easy to use in terms of swiping and swapping tiles. Along the way, pools of water exist that Cooky must either avoid or walk across via a floor panel. In some cases, certain types of boards or walls such as those made with cement or brick are immovable meaning you’ll need to quickly devise strategies for a workaround. A timer keeps track of time spent, but keep in mind that you can take as much time as needed to solve a puzzle without penalty.

Hi, Cheese has a fair amount of nice touches including a fast forward button which must be held down to activate that speeds up Cooky’s movement to the exit. There are also a variety of tools:

Iron Hammer—destroys bricks
Screwdriver—destroys mouse traps
Stopwatch—temporarily pauses time
Magical Hand—used to collect High Cheese from far away

The interface for Hi, Cheese is well done not only in terms of the visuals but in how it’s laid out. Levels are displayed at the bottom of the screen, and by tapping on a level, a small picture showing the layout of the puzzle appears in the upper part of the screen as well as time minimums to receive a bonus challenge game. Unlike most games, I can access the levels and see a layout all within a single screen without having to scroll through multiple pages. Not that this impacts gameplay, but still it’s a nicely organized interface. Because of how the game is set up, you can also go back to previous levels for high scoring purposes.

The gameplay in the core game is engaging and requires creative thinking which is probably why I like this game as much as I do. This is the type of game that requires your full attention because in most of the puzzles, you won’t have enough moveable tiles to create a path. Instead, moving and reusing tiles just in time to keep Cooky from meeting his vermin demise will be key. As puzzles become more complex, you’ll find yourself constantly reshuffling tiles more and more. And, if Cooky happens to walk into a wall, he will backtrack all the way towards the beginning of the path or until he bumps into another wall or falls into a pool. This impacts time since there isn’t a way to stop and turn Cooky around unless you creatively maneuver floor panels to alter his path. Also, meowing from Momo the cat will temporarily stop Cooky in his tracks which obviously impacts time. Once all the High Cheese on a certain level are collected, a curtain covering the exit opens, allowing Cooky to leave. It’s a fun experience as you move tiles around again and again because Cooky is always on the move. While he doesn’t move particularly fast at normal speed, but that won’t matter much if you can’t figure out what tiles to move.

As for the mini-games, they are simple and straightforward, and really only serve to add some variety to over all game. Intended as time wasters, they’re not particularly deep, and while the dev added content where he didn’t need to, it is still much appreciated.

While the music is cheery enough to make Hello Kitty proud, the game doesn’t use awe-inspiring graphics, but what is there is vibrantly colored and animated with a slight dose of humor. The game is lighthearted in nature as he wallows in a pool or gets clipped by a mouse trap to show that he’s failed. Visually, the puzzle layouts look great with various terrains and deceptively simple.

Overall, Hi, Cheese is a fantastic and innovative game that entertains as well as it plays. With a fun yet lightweight story, the solid gameplay is rewarding without trying too hard. It has enough levels to keep players occupied for the near term, and I hope additional levels are on the way.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (solid and creative puzzler combining different elements that should deliver a good deal of challenge to puzzlers at all levels; great presentation that doesn’t try to overwhelm)


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