|Exceedingly cute and colorful maze action game with surprisingly complex scoring mechanics, and lots of little homages to previous Namco games.|
Pressing and holding button 1 drops your tinkle ball (stop that snikering!) and leaves a line behind you as you wend through the maze. Release the button and the ball snaps back along the line, slaughtering any badguys in its way--and since they tend to pursue you directly, this usually takes out the pursuit right quick. You can get powerups for the tinkle ball (electrocution lines, explosive thingies, etc), and you can also pick up and release power balls that bounce around the maze and take out a single bad-guy, Mr. Do-style.
You get bonuses for taking out a lot of badguys in a single snap of the tinkle ball, but the real point of each stage is to collect all the tasty giant fruit! Collect all the ripe fruits (well okay, sometimes they're other things, like dolls) and you get a Perfect bonus score at the round end.
Things get complicated, however. For starters, fruits (or whateva) start out in a preliminary state, and if you pick them up in this state you have spoiled your perfect. To ripen them, as it were, you have to pick up one of the ones next to them--so you've got to plan your route a bit, being careful to avoid pre-ripened goods.
But don't forget that the stage only ends once all the baddies are killed. In fact, it ends when there's only one baddie left, as he promptly heads for a clear area and then disappears, ending the stage. This means that if you want a perfect, you have to leave at least two baddies chasing you around the maze until you've collected all the goods.
The cute sounds and graphics, and surprisingly detailed cute graphics at that, will appeal to anyone whose soul is not dead, and the AI, although not overly intelligent, provides some tricks, using characters from Dig Dug and their ability to ghost through walls or breath fire, for instance. The game felt a little busy and senseless to me at first but then some smarter people figured out the scoring and managed to explain some of it to me, and I felt better, then became rather obsessed with getting a high score.