"ORBYX!" (in a robot voice). That's what you hear when you launch this new pachinko-style game on XBCG. I guess the idea here is that we're blowing up orbs with bouncing flaming cannonballs - sounds good to me.
Some of you might be familiar with this type of gameplay because this pachinko mechanic has become quite popular recently. You essentially aim your shots at at the board, trying to blast specific orbs away, and build up mega scores and combos with all of the ricochets. It's quite addicitive, I must admit. It's as if every shot has a dose of strategy paired with the rush of a gamble. It's easy to play and enjoy a couple rounds, or a couple of hours of rounds. It's sort of like getting to play Plinko over and over and much as you want. (no cash prize though, booooo) Oh and that's a Price is Right reference.
Orbyx adapts this simple mechanic well, and you're going to enjoy a crisp game with solid production value. There's plenty of levels/boards to play, and it's very easy to learn the basics. You can preview your shot in order to get a feel for the first couple bounces that will occur - which is pretty key when you get down to your last couple shots.
For me personally, the randomness of the third/fourth/fifth unpredictable bounce lends itself to a bit too much luck. After you plan your initial shot, there's quite a bit of sitting and watching your ball (sorry, I mean flaming cannonball) take it's course. Sometimes you catch a break and start landing unforeseen combos, sometimes you get screwed and the balls just bounces once/twice and then manages to hit nothing else. Not that 'chance' is a bad element in a game, but there's quite a bit here.
Orbyx adds a wealth of frills that add to the experience. There is an element of 'magic spells' that you can unleash if you collect the 5 letters to spell m-a-g-i-c. There's zoom-in and slow-mo action as you come close to beating a level, and there is a great array of SFX that really add to the fun addicitive nature of bouncing around the boards. All-the-while, the graphics and backgrounds are rich, colorful, and deep.
In that same vein however, you might find that the mixmash of prominent themes sort of clash a bit. From the opening, which sounds robotic, to the techno breakbeats, concept of flaming cannonballs (medieval?) and then elven princesses, magic spells, and fantasy style music tracks....I was a bit lost. In someways it does keep things interesting and adds variety, but I would have personally preferred if the developer picked one and really drove it home. With the four female fantasy characters and magic themes, I think that would have worked just fine to carry that through. Maybe even go one step further down the RPG/fantasy road and add a leveling/experience system and maybe a shop to buy powerups and items from, etc. There's room for innovation. (granted you might only attract a certain audience that way)
So Orbyx is a fresh take on a popular style of game and it's great to have this option on XBCG, especially at this level of polish. A 400 MP, I believe it's fairly priced considering it could keep you going for 30+ hours of gameplay. So it really just comes down to whether or not you like the basic game mechanic of pachinko. If you do, you should snatch this up faster than you can say "Elven robot techno cannonballs." ;)