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Yopaz Ice Star Retro Review (Atari Jaguar CD)

When you wish upon a star!

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This relatively new homebrew title for the Jag CD is actually a sequel to one of the earliest Jaguar homebrews produced, the highly addictive Diam Jag by OrionSoft. In fact if you count the 3D version of the game that also appeared, called Ozmosys, Yopaz Ice Star actually the third game in the series. French developers OrionSoft have been one of the biggest supporters of the Jaguar in its afterlife, also releasing titles such as the Myst inspired Elansar, the sequel Philia and cutesy platformer Alice’s Mom’s Rescue. Another interesting fact about Yopaz Ice Star is that the game had previously appeared on the PlayStation a couple of years before and remains one of the few homebrew releases produced for the PS1 in recent times. So let’s delve into Yopaz Ice Star a little deeper and see if it’s every bit as good as its predecessors.

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Now I should probably start of by saying that Yopaz Ice Star uses the exact same gameplay as Diam Jag, which is certainly no bad thing. But for those of you that never played the original game I will endeavour to describe how it all works. You control a little smiley face and your objective is to collect all the diamonds on each level (or ice stars in this game I guess) and move onto the next one. But, as always, this is not as easy as it sounds. Your little guy, named Yopaz, will keep moving in the direction you tell him until he hits something, at which point he will stop. Then you will need to press another direction for him to travel, providing that direction is available of course. So the key element here is to work out the best route round the screen using the walls and blocks to stop you. You must also zip around each screen within a time limit, which doesn’t give you very long to plan your journey. Each level in Yopaz Ice Star can actually be solved very quickly, often in just a few joypad presses, if you work it out correctly. Once you have collected all the stars it’s on to the next level. As the game goes on the levels get more complex and the time limits get tougher, as you would probably expect. Later on Yopaz Ice Star gets very fiendish indeed!

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So far Yopaz Ice Star is just like its predecessor Diam Jag, the game even looks incredibly similar. But where it changes is that OrionSoft have added a number of different modes to the game to give some much needed variation. As well as the classic mode there is also an advanced mode, for expert players, and a tiny mode, which is much easier. But that is not all! Best of all Yopaz Ice Star comes with a fantastic level creator that allows you to design your own stages, play them and save them to your memory track cartridge to play again! This is a brilliant edition to the product that really raises its already strong appeal up a notch. The memory track cartridge can also be used to save your progress through the game’s 40 different levels and keep tabs on your best scores so you can show them off to your friends.

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Graphically Yopaz Ice Star is pretty simple, but in all honesty it doesn’t really need to be anything special, it’s just not that sort of game. But I must give a small mention to the excellent FMV intro, not something you see on many Jaguar CD homebrews. Yopaz Ice Star, as you would expect with the game being on CD, also has some very some music. The chilled out ambient tunes, by professional artists, suit the game perfectly and really add to the mood. When it comes down to gameplay Yopaz is a real star (excuse the pun!) with its addictive qualities and long term lastability, thanks in the most part to the excellent level editor. If you have a Jaguar CD then you should definitely be seeking this game out. Especially, if like me, you are a big fan of puzzle games anyway and more famous, but similar, titles such as Sokoban or Chip’s Challenge.

Final Verdict: 4/5

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Available on: Atari Jaguar CD (reviewed), Sony PlayStation, PC, Atari ST, Sega Dreamcast, Atari Falcon, Android ; Publisher: OrionSoft ; Developer: OrionSoft ; Players: 1 ; Released: 3rd August 2014 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: $34.95

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