By Dan Zuccarelli . May 8, 2007 . 1:00pm
Eets: Chowdown is a really tough game to catagorize. At it’s heart it’s a puzzle game, but it really doesn’t look or play like one. In what can only be called a combo of Lemmings and The Incredible Machine (complex machines to do basic tasks), Eets is unlike anything else I’ve seen on the Live Arcade up to this point.
The premise is simple, get Eets from point A to point B. You don’t control Eets directly, but can influence his movements using different items. See it works like this… you have a certain number of items to place on the board. When you’re down, you trigger Eets to start moving. Then you basically sit back and see if he lives. There’s some involvement with a few of the items, making sure they trigger at the right moment, but for the most part once you trigger Eets to get going there’s only so much you can do to help him.
The 1st time I played the game I didn’t like it, at all. I didn’t know what to expect going in but I was bored almost instantly. The game looked great and had a very interesting art style, but the gameplay fell flat. I decided to give it a day or two and take another run at it. I’m glad I did. While I didn’t love the game, I did come to really enjoy it.
The puzzles start off pretty simply, introducing new items at a good pace. Not quickly enough to overwhelm, but fast enough not to get bored. It’s confusing until you get used to it, but that’s only because of the goofy names and appearances of the items you’re supposed to use. Instead of calling something by a name that conveys what it does, everything seems to have random names. Take for instance the item that make Eets leap. They could’ve called it a "jumping bean" or something similar, but instead they called it the angry marshmallow. How am I supposed to remember what the radioactive ginseng is supposed to do?? I kept having to scroll through each item and reading the description to find the one I wanted it. There’s no time limit so there’s no penalty but still, I don’t want to spend time playing where I keep repeating tasks over and over like that.
But once I finally got used to the items, the game did improve. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it addictive, but the game definitely hooks you in if you let it. The game is goofy and fun and encourages trying out some wacky solutions to seemingly simple problems. I have a feeling the game is probably a lot better on a computer than on the 360, only because the nature of the game seems to lend itself to using a mouse. But if you’re bored with Bejeweled and want a puzzle game for the 360, Eets might be just what you’re looking for.