Publisher: Hi-Tech Expressions
Total time played: 8.5 Hours
Short review: It’s like Pong and Arkanoid combines with an overly long Sci-Fi story and a 3D gimmick. It is a cool concept but not executed as well as I would have liked.
Interesting links related to Orb 3D
An Unneeded Gimmick
3D is the gimmick that just never goes away. Every 10-15 years it has a resurgence and then dies away again because it just never works like it should. The NES had a couple of “3D” games including Orb 3D, which came with 3D glasses. Much like Rad Racer, the 3D in Orb 3D is pretty lackluster, luckily it isn’t needed to play the game.
A Crazy Story
I’m not going to recount the story of the game here but it takes up several pages in the manual. It is way more involved than it needs to be and the story never really comes into play in the game. It is almost like the game’s creators had the idea for a story and an idea for an unrelated game and then just lacklusterly put them together.
How to Play
Orb 3D is kind of like Arkanoid or Pong. A ball bounces back and forth across the screen and you move a paddle up and down to hit the ball and bounce it back in the opposite direction. The ball can travel in the foreground or the background. When the ball hits the paddle on either side of the screen it moves from the foreground to background or background to foreground. You can also make the ball jump between the background and foreground by hitting the A button.
There are 30 levels in Orb 3D. The manual refers to these levels as “Enigma Chambers” which is a way cooler name than this game deserved.
Is it Hard?
In each Enigma Chamber you have to solve the puzzle before time runs out. In Orb 3D time is a fuel gauge, so, you have to solve the puzzle before you run out of fuel. Most levels will take several attempts because you first need to figure out how to solve the puzzle and then actually solve it.
Most of the puzzles are pretty straight forward and just require you to clear the screen, but, the controls are less than responsive and controlling the ball and making it bounce where you want it to is much harder than it should be. Luckily there are unlimited continues so if you are tenacious enough you will eventually beat Orb 3D.
In most stages sometimes a second Orb shows up so you then control 2 orbs at once which I didn’t find made the game any easier, but, hey, its something, I guess.
I Need some Fuel
As time ticks away your fuel slowly decreases. If the ball passes your paddle off of the screen you lose a good chunk of fuel at once. If you get low on fuel you can hit the B button and travel to “Vern’s” to refuel. Vern’s is a mini game and you can only get fuel if you have enough points to do so. I never figured out exactly how the game determined what happened at Vern’s. One of several things could happen.
- The fuel bays are open and traveling through them gives you fuel. The fuel bay doors slowly close so you need to get through as many as possible as quickly as you can.
- The fuel bay doors are all closed. If this is the case you can hit your ball against the dollar sign to open the fuel bay doors.
- Instead of going to Vern’s a giant pink head appears on the screen and you must hit him in both eyes to go to Vern’s
When you travel back to the stage the only change is that the bars on the side of the screen are slightly smaller making it a bit harder to hit the ball.
I don’t know why I’m doing this but I’m going to show a screenshot of all 30 Enigma Chambers and let you know what you need to do to solve each.
Enigma Chamber 1
Enigma Chamber 2
Enigma Chamber 3
Enigma Chamber 4
Enigma Chamber 5
Enigma Chamber 6
Enigma Chamber 7
Enigma Chamber 8
Enigma Chamber 9
Enigma Chamber 10
Enigma Chamber 11
Enigma Chamber 12
Enigma Chamber 13
Enigma Chamber 14
Enigma Chamber 15
Enigma Chamber 16
Enigma Chamber 17
Enigma Chamber 18
Enigma Chamber 19
Enigma Chamber 20
Enigma Chamber 21
Enigma Chamber 22
Enigma Chamber 23
Enigma Chamber 24
Enigma Chamber 25
Enigma Chamber 26
Enigma Chamber 27
Enigma Chamber 28
Enigma Chamber 29
Enigma Chamber 30
Planning Ahead Was Pointless
I really didn’t like Enigma Chamber 29 because it seemed like moving the ball through the maze was harder than it needed to be. I would sometimes hit the ball and it wouldn’t move or would move in the wrong direction. I got pretty good at moving the Orb where I wanted by playing this level over and over again. I fully expected the final stage to be even harder so I watched a video of it on YouTube.
In this video I saw that the final level was a matching game with 48 cards…24 matches. I just knew this was going to be a nightmare so I decided to plan ahead. I drew the level on a piece of paper and marked where every match was in the YouTube video I watched. When I finally got to the final level I immediately realized that the placement of the cards is random so me planning ahead was a waste of time. Not only that, but every time you got a game over the cards would change locations. The saving grace was that you can actually pause the game and still see the board. I paused the game after flipping each card to mark its location and eventually had enough information to know where all the matches were. Because I’d spent so much time in Enigma Chamber 29 perfecting my Orb placement actually hitting the cards wasn’t that bad. In fact, I bet I beat Enigma Chamber 30 on my 3rd try where it took close to 50 tries for Enigma Chamber 29.
The final boss was super easy. Just like the dragon that sometimes appeared going to Vern’s to beat it you just need to move the Orb through both eyes. The catch here is the gravity is a bit wonky. But, I didn’t notice a fuel gauge so I think maybe you can’t die on the final boss?? After Enigma Chambers 29 and 30 I appreciated and easy final boss.
In concept this game is really cool. It’s basically just a bunch of simple puzzles you need to figure out. It kind of reminds me of sitting in Cracker Barrel, you’ve got checkers, the peg jumping game and usually a couple of other things to keep your brain occupied while you wait for food. But, the fact you had to use clunky controls and an ever moving ball was too complex. It added an unnecessary handicap to the game. Most of the puzzles were a bit too simple and the only difficulty in the game was controlling the ball to complete the puzzle. It is worth checking out and if it had been executed better it could have been much more fun. Thank goodness for unlimited continues.