With top-notch titles like Lumines, Gunpey, Every Extend Extra and Meteos, handhelds are becoming a puzzle lover’s dream. Konductra shows similar promise, but unfortunately gets caught in its own mess.
Konductra’s premise isn’t entirely new - it's similar to Othello with a different motive, or Tetris played on a tray instead of in a column. The playfield is a horizontal grid, and every few seconds, you must place a Siamese pair of colored blocks somewhere on the grid. Black and white "conductor" end pieces lie all around the edges of the playfield, and enable you to charge up and destroy all touching blocks of the same color as long as you’re able to connect the "final" block in the line to another end piece of the same color. Once that's done, you hit the switch and the conductor fricassees the blocks.
In addition, if you don't electrocute your bricks right away, you can create another rows of bricks touching that same colored conductor for bonus points, and there's a white "link" brick that's basically a wild card, enabling you to switch your row to another color.
It's slightly more complex than most puzzle games, and Konductra ’s learning curve is rough, easily requiring a few hours before you'll finally get it. Until that time, you’re going to really have to make it a hobby of looking at “You Lose” screens.
Unfortunately, even when you get your groove on, Konductra isn't terribly captivating. The stylus is clumsy at times, and there is no way to correct its own mistake. The gameplay, also, never really evolves; there are plenty of modes, but there is never any new "trick" to winning levels. Some games revel in zen-like simplicity, and others add layers of depth slowly to keep you hooked - but Konductra sits exactly in the middle, too complex to be a zen master and too plain to be a brain surgeon. All these factors, with some extremely repetitive background music, really hurt the limited appeal Konductra has going for it.
Thankfully, there are four modes you can play: classic arcade-style action, a mission-objective mode, and two competitive modes that can be played against either the AI or a friend of yours. If you happen to get past Konductra ’s tough first moments and become pro at the game, the multiplayer mode in particular is rapid and can get crazy; this actually turns out to be the best thing going for the game.
At the end of the day, Konductra can be fun, or frustrating. And while it can be fun for the right reasons, it will be frustrating for the wrong reasons. We’re hoping a sequel can really improve on its premise.