Impact Magazines1st October 1993
Published in Sega Master Force #3
Screw on your thinking head and slip on your National Health glasses because a new brainteaser from Sega has hit the Game Gear. Boy, is it a tough one!
Junction's gameplay sounds simple - deceptively simple. You're a small red ball (so plenty of life-long ambitions to be fulfilled here!) and your aim's to roll over all the scattered checkpoints of single-screen levels.
The ball runs along a track formed by several blocks, which are shifted around to form different track patterns (like the plastic sliding puzzles you used to get in your Christmas stocking, then promptly forgot about). There's a time limit, and the red sphere's constantly moving, so creating a path to checkpoints, avoiding dead ends and steering clear of enemies is no easy task.
Aside from basic blocks - horizontal and vertical track sections, crossroads and curves - there are immovable gold blocks and special ones to change direction and jump platforms. Pick-ups appearing on individual blocks give extra lives, extend the time limit, decrease or increase the ball's speed and so on.
Every tenth stage cleared rewards the player with a bonus game in which they can win more balls. Three cute 'Almagiro' creatures spin around and are slowed at the press of a button. An extra ball's awarded for every 'Almagiro' left facing front.
There are fifty stages, and you can select any from the options screen, along with the number of lives and three skill levels, where Easy removes enemies and Hard decreases the time limit. Be warned though, even Easy had us gnashing our teeth!
Puzzle games fall into two categories: fantastically addictive and terminally dull. Sadly, Junction falls into the latter.
The basic idea's sound enough and it's been used in loads of other games on different formats, where it worked well and provided hours of brain-teasing fun. However, Junction doesn't even begin to climb the entertainment ladder and you'll only last a couple of levels before you fling your Game Gear out of the window in frustration!
The controls are sluggish, the sound is abysmal and the puzzles are too difficult and abstract to provide any lasting enjoyment. The graphics are okay, but then games like these hardly stretch the Game Gear's graphics capabilities.
Junction's a below-standard release for the quirky puzzle genre. It's been available on import for a while - hopefully it'll remain there for a long time to come.
Graphically, Junction is prety basic. The focal point is a measly little ball, and the other visuals aren't much better - only the armadillo-like 'Almagiros' have any real detail.
The gameplay's very difficult to begin with but, once you master the first few stages, the rest come a lot easier. However, as the difficulty gradually increased, I gradually lost interest; as you can appreciate, it's hard to feel motiviated by a naff ball graphic.
Sorry to be so down on Junction, but I thought console games were meant to be fun. Oh well, maybe I'm just too thick!
Another variation on an ancient puzzle idea. Too tricky and not enough fun.