Grab the Bottle is a Rube Goldberg puzzler, somehow oh-so familiar.
There are games that exist in a different format in our memories to their actual format, things seen through a filter that was never there. The graphics looked sharper, fog wasn’t as apparent, controls weren’t as limited as we remember, some of the games that hold up the best over time are those that are gameplay first, whether puzzle or tech-tree based.
For years my main way of trying new games was PC demo discs, up until around the time SIN/Max Payne came out, It might be that these games came out years apart, but these are the points wherein the demo disc was no longer my main game delivery service. With the abundance of cRPGs being played on the PC, I navigated my way towards the Dreamcast, a console that at the time was broken wide-open piracy wise.
Not only was the console completely open, but due to the early death of the console, actual games were relatively cheap, and as a child I had limited funds, but enough to buy two or three second hand (or simply old stock) Dreamcast games for less than £10.
During this time I attempted to buy PC games, and ended up with some good games, games requiring graphics cards more powerful than our own and whole chunk of bad shovel-ware, which was low entry enough to run on our PC, without the need to upgrade hardware. Those cheap games, sometimes had hidden gems, but more often than not a demo disc would have sufficed.
The games that gravitated toward me would be Diablo/Zelda/Rogue-likes and Rube Goldberg-esque puzzle games, those wherein the solution is the path to the goal, a genre that has seemingly been relegated to handheld consoles Games like the Mario vs Donkey Kong series, and huge swaths of DSiWare/PSVita games. B3 was offered a code for Grab the Bottle, a game that runs using those mechanics, and I offered to take up the code.
Grab the Bottle is a friendly puzzle game wherein the objective is to do the namesake, while snaking an infinitely long arm through a room, avoiding hazards, and collecting necessary and optional objectives. It is a very apparent from a few minutes of gameplay and a history with the genre that the game is solely these puzzles, the challenge ramps up with the introduction of surface that need to be interacted with, before making specific steps of progress.
If you have played one of these games then you know that it is less-so about finding the twist or unique feature, and more so about the puzzlebook element of progressing until completion. I didn’t complete the game, nor did I do most of my progress in one sitting. It’s a game like The Witness where I drop in and out at times, in order to progress, I’m eagerly awaiting Baba is You when I finally finish this title, as that seems like the next major twist on the puzzle genre that will cross my path.
Along the same lines I purchased myself a copy of Pipe Push Paradise, a game of a similar style but of that of rotational puzzles, something about 3D rotation causes my brain to struggle, with that being said I keep trying, and I’m about 90% of the way to completion of that one puzzle. It’s going to take me completely rethinking the approach in order to solve it. It’s been months, it’s just not there for me, the game isn’t obtuse in the slightest, if you’ve ever played Stephen’s Sausage Roll, it’s that game but easier.
I don’t know if there is a cognitive issue relative to rotational puzzles, and visualising the different 3D faces of the shape, I wonder if Super Hypercube would murder me, or if it would train me to deal with it. I like PPP but I’m stuck way too early, there is a tutorial area, with four puzzles, which gate the game, before you seemingly wander an open area of islands, I’m stuck on the fourth puzzle, I’m going to wait until a family event and show it to my aunt, who was my entry to PC puzzle games and sit back and watch them struggle through the puzzles.
It’s not that Grab the Bottle isn’t challenging, it’s just a simple ‘routing’ puzzle, one that is very much what it says on the tin. Sometimes that’s enough, and other times it’s barely sufficient, but I never felt the need to abandon the game as I have with Pipe Push Paradise: a game that infuriates me due to my inability to solve what is probably the fourth easiest puzzle in a game of 47.