Developed by City Connection Published by Dispatch Games Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase is a revival of Jaleco’s classic action puzzle game Soldam. Its updated presentation contains plenty of colorful cute characters, and its mechanics follow the the original game’s simplicity. Players position falling blocks properly in order to clear lines, score points, and survive for as long as possible. Although its content is simple and it may primarily resonate with devout puzzle game players, Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase is a fairly amusing and straightforward take on the established falling block genre.
Soldam is fundamentally simple, but it can take a little while to understand its flow. The playfield consists of twelve full rows (along with a partial row at the top) and ten columns. Players rotate and place 2×2 falling blocks into one of five positions. Filling a row with a single color will clear it. The catch is that players can also manipulate existing pieces’ colors. By creating a horizontal or even diagonal “color sandwich,” players can change multiple pieces’ colors to that of the sandwich’s “inside” color. While changing pieces’ colors can be incredibly helpful as it can clear multiple lines simultaneously, it can also take a bit of practice to utilize properly. Haphazard block placement can unexpectedly change colors all across the board.
While the game’s progression is fairly straightforward and basic, it does provide some thrills. A standard game starts with two colors and fairly slow falling blocks, but the number of colors and speed increases as the game progresses. Players can strive for higher scores by utilizing the game’s mechanics properly and taking some risks. By setting up the board so that a single block changes many pieces’ colors, players can clear many lines at once for a huge point bonus. While it can take a bit of practice, learning to clear lines and grappling with higher drop speeds can be entertaining. On the flip side, causing unintentional color changes can be discouraging, and recovering can be a bit of a protracted process. Furthermore, the blocks feel slightly slippery as they do not lock instantly upon hitting the ground.
Soldam provides a handful of modes: a main survival mode, an easy mode where blocks can stay airborne indefinitely, a puzzle challenge mode, and a versus mode. As these modes are relatively simple, enjoying the game for extended periods of time highly hinges upon appreciating its core mechanics. Players can replay the main mode for higher scores or attempt to overcome all fifty puzzle challenges. These challenges present fixed scenarios in which players must meet goals with a pre-chosen set of blocks. These challenges start off fairly easy, but they can quickly become daunting without a firm understanding of the game’s color switching mechanics. However, the puzzles generally feel well constructed. The game’s versus mode is an amusing diversion that can be played locally or online. In this mode, each character is able to clear a designated color and send extra lines to the opponent’s side. While this mode has a few fun twists on the game’s formula, it would have been nice to be able to play against computer controlled opponents as well.
Soldam also provides additional replayability in the form of unlocking new Plumidex entries. As players play the main Soldam Mode, new Plumi creatures can occasionally appear on the left side of the screen. Once players complete that particular run, they can return to the Plumidex to look at the new creature’s background information. Players can even bring any unlocked Plumi into a new game. Unlocking these creatures is an ambiguous process, but the creatures’ designs are quite endearing.
The game provides a handful of extra audio related options. Players can choose whether or not to hear voice clips throughout the game. The characters will provide slight outbursts as players clear lines, which can be somewhat amusing. Furthermore, the game also provides a music test for freely listening to the game’s mellow and bouncy tunes.
Despite a bit of a learning curve, Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase is a straightforward puzzle game with some entertaining color changing mechanics. Although it has few modes, the game has a fair amount of replayability and scoreplay potential. It certainly rewards players who take the time to understand how it operates. Ultimately, the game can provide hours of puzzle gaming fun, but its features feel a bit basic for a contemporary take on the genre.