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Orb 3d




Genre: Puzzle

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.

verns.webp?w=474Move your ball through as many of those holes as you can.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

verns-dragon.png?w=640Sometimes when you go to Vern’s you see this guy. He looks like he may be high in this photo.

Enigma Chambers

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

1.png?w=1024Pop all the bubbles to complete the level

Enigma Chamber 2

2-3.png?w=1024Get a strike or a spare to complete the level. This means you have to knock all pins down but only get 2 attempts.

Enigma Chamber 3

3.png?w=1024Just clear the screen. You need to hit all these things more than once but they eventually disappear.

Enigma Chamber 4

4.png?w=1024Hit the line to turn it into a cloud, hit the cloud to turn it into a butterfly and then hit the butterfly to make it disappear.

Enigma Chamber 5

5.png?w=1024The Cheshire Cat. Hit him to make him disappear and beat the stage.

Enigma Chamber 6

6.png?w=1024This was the first stage that gave me trouble. A number 6 die appears on the top row of the screen in a random location. It slowly rolls down to the bottom of the screen with the number decreasing by 1 each time it moves. The green number at the bottom of the screen starts in the 20’s and each die you hit is subtracted from that number. When the green number reaches 0 you win.

Enigma Chamber 7

7.png?w=1024You play tic tac toe against an invisible computer player. Get 3 0’s in a row to win. If you lose or it is a draw the board erases and you start again.

Enigma Chamber 8

8.png?w=1024Another children’s game. This time you need to get 5 in a row to win

Enigma Chamber 9

9.png?w=1024One of the pool balls is spinning, hit it to make it disappear. After all balls are gone hit the 8-ball to beat the level. But, if you hit the 8-ball while other balls are still on screen all the balls reappear.

Enigma Chamber 10

10.png?w=1024One of the skulls spins at a time. Hit the spinning skull to make it disappear. When there are no more skulls you beat the level.

Enigma Chamber 11

11.png?w=1024Once all rockets are gone you beat the level. A rocket will blast off making all rockets on top of it disappear. So, hit the rockets at the bottom to make this stage much easier.

Enigma Chamber 12

12.png?w=1024Slide puzzles are the worst. Games that feature slide puzzles make me anxious because I’m so bad at them. Luckily, to beat this level you just need to hit the 2, 5 and then hit the 6 to move them into order.

Enigma Chamber 13

13.png?w=1024Hit each face 3 times to make it disappear.

Enigma Chamber 14

14.png?w=1024This level reminded me of the under-appreciated unlicensed game, Krazy Kreatures. I didn’t ever figure out how this level worked, sometimes I’d hit an animal and then a couple of animals would disappear. Once they are all gone you win.

Enigma Chamber 15

15.png?w=1024This level was hard as duck for me. To win you have to line all ducks up on the same row. If you hit the duck from above it moves one direction and if you hit it from below it moves in the opposite direction.

Enigma Chamber 16

16.png?w=1024This is another level that you just have to clear all the magnets. Hitting a magnets makes it rotate. When the red ends of 2 magnets face each other they both disappear.

Enigma Chamber 17

17.png?w=1024One bombs wick is lit. Hit it before the bomb blows up to make it disappear. Once all bombs are gone you win. If you don’t hit the bomb before it blows up there is no penalty, it just reappears and you can try again.

Enigma Chamber 18

18.png?w=1024This was the first head scratcher for me. As always the goal is to clear the screen of eyes. The center eye opens on its own. If the center eye is open hitting any of the other eyes makes them move around the screen. You need to hit the center eye to close it, then hit any of the closed eyes to open them, and then hit the open eyes again to make them disappear. The key is the center eye must be closed for you to clear the other eyes.

Enigma Chamber 19

19.png?w=1024Another level that took me forever. The goal is to spell the word “Orbit” by hitting the letters in the correct order. It is really hard to hit the letters in order without hitting another letter accidentally.

Enigma Chamber 20

20.png?w=1024Similar to the rocket level hitting an arrow will cause a chain reaction and get rid of the arrows in front of it.

Enigma Chamber 21

21.png?w=1024Hit the value displayed at the top of the page on your bingo card to turn it into a red circle. Get 5 in a row to win. If you hit the wrong value the value at the top of the screen changes. This was straight forward but hard to complete without running out of fuel.

Enigma Chamber 22

22.png?w=1024Each of the 3 pumps blows up one color balloon. You must hit the pump 7 times (I think) in a row to pop the balloons. If you hit a different pump the balloons you have been blowing up will deflate.

Enigma Chamber 23

23.png?w=1024Another head scratcher. This is a game of Simon Says. One item appears, when you hit it a second item appears, then 3, then 4. You must hit them in the same order each time to clear the stage.

Enigma Chamber 24

24.png?w=1024Instead of clearing the screen you have to fill up the screen. If you hit one of the cats all blank spots touching the cat are filled in with more cats. If you hit a cat with no blank spots around it then it disappears.

Enigma Chamber 25

25.png?w=1024Hit the rings at the top of the screen until the reach the pegs at the bottom. Sometimes when you hit the rings they don’t move. I never figured out why they only move sometimes.

Enigma Chamber 26

26.png?w=1024You are the red queen and your goal is to clear the rest of the pieces. Pieces move like in real chess. I expected to spend more time on this stage because even when you know where to move it is easier said than done.

Enigma Chamber 27

27.png?w=1024Hitting a car from the left side moves it up a square, hitting it from the right moves it back one square. Get the blue square to the top before the other cars (which can move on their own) gets to the top.

Enigma Chamber 28

28.png?w=1024Get the same image in all 3 boxes to win. You can hit the slot machine from the front or the back to make it stop. I think I got lucky on this one beating it as quickly as I did.

Enigma Chamber 29

29.png?w=1024Move the pink ball to the exit to win. Sometimes the ball didn’t move how I expected it to making this level took me longer to beat than any other level.

Enigma Chamber 30

30.png?w=1024A fitting final stage. This is a massive matching game that was much easier and more fun than Enigma Chamber 29

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.

img_7448.jpeg?w=1024my crude Enigma Chamber 30 cheat sheet

Final Battle

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.

unknown.jpeg?w=259What a final boss!

Final Thoughts

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.


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