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RELEASE DATE (JP): December 21, 1985 GENRE: Puzzle
// review by Beverley

Lots of fun. Two lots, to be exact.

Before I begin telling you about the game I want to review today, I want to prelude by saying I had the pleasure of playing Lot Lot at a local establishment, where the owners have been holding gaming nights for a few months now. I think it is wonderful that there is such a place in town where you can go out, have a beer, and share the magic of retro gaming. Gamers now have a place to hang out and play games aside from musty basements and get to go out and have a social life with other nerds, or just be introverted in public.

Anyway, back to Lot Lot. This game has a very ambiguous title, and the board doesn't give you many hints about what is going on. If I were to rename this game to make the objective clearer, I might call it "Starve the Bad Crab Using the Magic of Portals." I guess that is still pretty confusing. Did I mention this was a Japan-only game for the Famicom? Like many Japanese games, this is a strange one.

Reminds me of the McDonalds Playplace...

Basically, the board consists of a grid with 16 squares, and your goal is to get falling balls to fall down certain columns, but not other ones. If a ball falls down the first column on the left, a crab comes up and eats them and the game is over, but you rack up major points by getting the balls to fall down as far right as possible. You manipulate the balls by moving red and green arrows that act as portals when you click. The red arrow is moved using the directional pad, and at first I thought the green arrow had a mind of its own, but I soon realised it was making all the mistakes I was, so I realized it follows the red arrow by a two-second lag. To make matters more complicated, sometimes blocks in the wall become passable, and the balls leak all over the place! Once you reach a certain number of points, you progress to the next level and the balls change colour, just to keep things interesting.

Although it took me a long time to figure out how to play, once I did it was surprisingly addictive. The sound is pretty typical: just cheerful bleeps and bloops, with a convenient alarm that warns you when a ball has reached the bottom of the left column and will soon be eaten by the crab. The graphics are pretty straightforward as well. What I find really addictive about this game is the concept. If this game were released today, I can just imagine some spokesperson from thatgamecompany taking a drag from a cigarette during an interview and saying, "This game is about time, about how you relate to yourself and your history and the consequences of every decision you make. Oh yeah, and the crab is about the sense of meaninglessness that we are all trying to avoid but inevitably succumb to. We wanted to create something new and different, and I think we succeeded." This game has a deceptively simple appearance and complex concept that marks it out as being very avant-garde. I definitely recommend searching out this quirky puzzle game.

Still confused by my synopsis? Check out my cool diagram, courtesy of the almighty MS Paint!


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