Video Game Review

Video Game Review: 'Quantum Conundrum' and 'Spelunky'

Dangerous challenges await in ‘Spelunky,’ ‘Quantum Conundrum’

July 12, 2012 


    Published by Microsoft for Xbox 360

    $15 (1,200 Microsoft Points)

    Rated T for Teen (violence, blood, crude humor)


    Published by Square Enix for PC, Xbox 360, PS3


    Rated E for Everyone (comic mischief)

"Quantum Conundrum" and "Spelunky" are both essentially about the same thing: Getting from the entrance of a room to its exit using a limited set of tools. But the details make all the difference.

As the young nephew of a mad scientist, you’ll explore a huge mansion in “Quantum Conundrum” as you search for your uncle, who has been sent somewhere by his experiments with other dimensions, but can still communicate with you (with the voice of John de Lancie, aka “Star Trek’s” mischievous Q).

To help in the search, you use a special glove that allows you to shift between dimensions if you have the right power source nearby. The glove allows you to move into four other dimensions at will — Fluffy, Heavy, Slow and Reverse Gravity.

You aren’t affected by these dimensions’ properties, so switching between these dimensions will allow you to solve the game’s rooms. In one, you might pick up a cardboard box and throw it onto a switch, then switch to Heavy so the box weighs it down. In another you might make a heavy steel safe light enough to lift and throw with Fluffy, then Slow it enough that you can jump on it to ride it over a gap. Many puzzles require the use of more than one dimension to solve, and while many are quite tricky, they are also logical.

“Quantum Conundrum” is forgiving of failure — succumb to a hazard and you can start over from the beginning of your current puzzle room. “Spelunky,” by contrast, is designed to punish — if you die in one of its randomly generated levels — which you will, and frequently — you start over from the beginning of the game, with all the treasure and helpful items you’ve collected along the way lost (though it’s possible to earn shortcuts to deeper levels in time).

Of course, most games used to operate this way. Modern gamers are used to frequent checkpoints and few consequences for failure, but 20 or 30 years ago games demanded perfect play — or another quarter. This game is a throwback to that era, but for the purpose of challenging players not taking their pocket change.

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