The Game of Harmony. (evaluation)
by Richard Sheffield
With a name like Harmony, you'd expect this game to be soothing and relaxing, freeing your from the nerve-racking tension and violence of other games. Think again. The challenge is anything but relaxing, and that's what makes it so much fun.
To harmonize the different colored spheres on the screen, you must bump spheres of like color together using a cue ball-like cursor. When the spheres touch, they let out a little musical sigh and disappear happily in harmony. But if spheres of different colors touch, they create a new, smaller sphere of a third color, which can be gobbled up for extra energy. If this smaller sphere is left alone, it will grow into a full-sized sphere also crying to be harmonized. To add to the challenge, the game places walls of various shapes in the way.
It sounds simple enough, and in Mantra mode it is. There's no time limit, and new spheres aren't created when spheres of different color collide. You just take your time, and eventually you'll find that things work out.
In Normal mode, the challenge increases--and so does the excitement. Here, you're rewarded for calm and deliberate movement. Now the spheres pulsate faster and faster until they just can't stand the discordance any more and explode, costing you a lot of energy. Run out of energy, and you lose a life. Lose all your lives, and the game is over.
Harmony can be as frustrating and tension producing as any other game, especially in Normal mode with spheres pulsating and exploding around you. It can also be very addicting.
It's one of the easiest games to learn that I've seen in quite some time. You can literally master the concepts and gameplay in one or two minutes.
Harmony cries out to be played on a VGA system. With EGA graphics, the game looks good and plays well. On a VGA system, Harmony's graphics are strikingly appealing. Background colors change and merge, and the spheres take on convincing depth. A Roland, CMS, or Ad Lib sound card adds considerably to your enjoyment.
To start the game, you must go through a copy-protection scheme that, unfortunately, uses annoyingly hard-to-read red paper. But at least you can make a backup copy of the disk and load it easily onto your hard drive.
With 50 different screens to harmonize, this is not a game you'll blast through in an afternoon. The real challenge is not only in harmonizing the screen but in doing it in a quick and graceful manner without a whole lot of bumping around. After a few game sessions, you should be able to begin to see patterns in the spheres, and elegant solutions will become more apparent. This is when the real fun begins.
IBM PC and compatibles; 512K; DOS 2.1 or higher; CGA, EGA, MCGA, VGA, or Tandy 16-color graphics; keyboard or joystick--$44.95
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