Review: Astraware Elixir

Elixir PlayToday I had a bit of bad luck. I downloaded and installed Elixir, a game I found on the Astraware website. I then started writing a review about it, and e-mailed my contact at Astraware about the coming review. However, then she replied that Elixir is not WM 5 / 6 compatible! I already saw that I couldn’t reach the Registration screen, but everything else worked very well. So since I already started the review I decided to finish it anyway, and post it here, but please realise that this game is not on the WM 5/6 compatibility list, so don’t purchase it only to find out that you can’t register it on your WM 5 / 6 device! In Elixir, you tap on colored capsules of different sizes. The size of the capsule determines with which amount the progress bar on the right side is filled. The bar gets more and more empty as time progresses, so in order to get to the next level you will need to fill the bar faster than the blue can drop down.

Just tapping capsules without any other rules would be boring, so Elixir has a nice way to make things a lot more interesting. To find out how, read on after the break!

Trial info AND COMPATIBILITY

This trial, like almost all Astraware trials, limit you in the amount of games you can play, so you’ll have to register in order to keep playing forever. However, since this game isn’t on the WM 5/6 compatibility list, issues can be expected. In fact, my only issue with this game appeared when I wanted to register it! I got an error message saying that I didn’t have a Device Owner Name set. However, I did have the Owner Name filled out (the screenshot is of course anonimized so there’s not a lot you can see)! So, again, if you want to purchase the game, first see if you can reach the Registration screen.

Elixir Reg 1 Elixir R 2

Main/menu screens

Elixir MainThe main screen of Elixir lets you pick any of three game modes. Easy level starts slow, and on the Hard level, you start with the speed of level 30 in Easy mode. Timed mode gives you an amount of capsules to break. Your ‘stock’ decreases over time, and you’ll have to make sure that you’ve collected the target amount of capsules before the time is gone. If you succeed, you go to the next level, where “your elixir stock will diminish faster”, as the Instructions (under the Tools menu) says. Speaking of the Instructions, they lead to a Help file describing the game modes and bonus capsules (more on those below). This is different from the Help item you see on the main screen, which takes you to a single in-game screen explaining gameplay. The font of this screen was a bit busy, in my opinion. While you are on the main screen, the highscores will flash by, followed by the highscores, and then the main screen returns again. The highscores are not reachable in another way.

Elixir Help Elixir Ingame Help Elixir Opt

The other noteworthy item in the menus (besides items like New Game, Pause Game, Abandon Game, Exit, Register, About, and Mute) is the Options page. Here you can set the effects to Full or Minimal, toggle Scoring between Normal and Negative, and change the Sounds (Silent, Subtle, Full). Not the kind of settings that greatly impact gameplay, but toggling the sound is always good, and the Effects setting might improve your device prestations, although I doubt today’s devices should have any problems with this game.

The game

Elixir GameplayWhen you start a game, you will see the gaming field filled with various capsules. The screenshot immediately to the right shows a ‘game in progress’ but this makes it easier to explain gameplay. The screenshot below it shows a screen immediately after starting a new game, so the screen is filled with capsules. Their color depends on their size (1, 2 or 3 spaces) and orientation (horizontal, vertical), but color and orientation don’t matter too much: the score you get for popping a capsule is the same as the size of the capsule (1, 2 or 3). In the top left, the blue/purple/green/red capsule is filled as time progresses, and every time when the red part is lit, a new row is added from the top. Also, the blue bar at the right goes down over time, so these are two things to take into account while playing. You should never let the blue bar reach the bottom! Keeping the blue bar filled (and filling it further to the top) is done by breaking capsules. To break a capsule, you simple tap on it. When a capsule is tapped, it will break if no capsule above it is directly supported by only this capsule. So for example in the screen above, there are two horizontal blue bars in the bottom left, with empty space above it. The bottom one supports the top one, so the bottom one can’t be removed. However, no bar is supported by the top one, so this one can be removed. And after that, the bottom bar is no longer needed to support anything, so it can be removed as well. For this reason, it is best to work from top to bottom. A very nice feature is that if you tap on a capsule that can’t be removed, you will see that the capsule that it’s supporting, flashes briefly. This lets you know which capsule it preventing you from breaking the capsule you want, so you can try to do something about it. Very nice!

Elixir PlayAnother example, with this screenshot. Four rows from the bottom, there are three blue bars. Above the left blue bar are two orange capsules, and a purple one with a red one on top. The orange capsule on the left is required to support the orange capule above it. That one supports the green capsule above it, but this green one is also supported by the red capsule. So we can safely remove the top orange capsule first (the green one will still be supported), and then the orange capsule below it (the left one). Then, we have the second orange capsule left, along with the purple + red one. We can either remove the orange one, or remove the purple + red one, but not both, since one these need to support the green capsule. However, this green capsule can be removed since the blue one above it will still be supported by a purple one, so now we can remove all the capsules directly above the blue one I started this paragraph about! We see, again, that it’s important to start as high as possible, because we couldn’t think about removing this blue capsule when we started, it was the only capsule supporting no less than three other capsules!

There are also bonus capsules, like the circle-shaped capsule in the screenshot below to the left. Tapping it will make various other capsules explode with the bonus capsule, so that capsules above it (that didn’t explode) will fall down until they touch another capsule. This creates the screenshot to the right. Don’t ask me about the logic. ;)

Elixir Bonus 1
 Elixir Bonus 2

When the blue bar is filled with the liquid coming from the capsules, you advance to the next level and things speed up gradually. To the left you can keep track of your score and the level you’re currently playing.

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned that I like the flash that shows which capsule is preventing you from breaking one of the capsules below it. In contrast to that, the colors look a bit pale – Astraware’s new works have much more lively colors. Also the menu bars are outdated, but this game hasn’t been updated in more than three years, so that’s a valid excuse. For a game that’s been around so long it still offers very nice gameplay. And yes, it has the “I can’t put this game down, I need to just play one more level” factor! And for just $ 4.95 it’s one of Astraware’s cheaper games, so if you’re unfamiliar with them this is a good way of checking out what they were capable of a couple years ago. Of course it’s a pity that we WM 5 and WM 6 users can’t register it! 

Name: Elixir
Version: 1.011
By: Astraware, Licensed from GamePlate
Platforms/OS: PPC, Palm. For PPC, PPC 2002 – 2003 (SE), but WM 5 and WM 6 are not supported.
Resolutions: QVGA (240*320), not compatible with the Treo 700w, iPAQ HW6510 and HW6515
Price: $ 4.95
Download trial or purchase!

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