Devil Dice, PlayStation

Devil Dice is a unique dice-moving puzzle game for one to five players that was developed by Shift, Inc. and published by Sony and THQ on the PlayStation in 1998. It is considered by some to be one of the best puzzle games on the PS1.

Devil Dice was originally created for a Japanese developer competition and went on to sell more than a million copies worldwide.

The basic rules of Devil Dice are: you are presented with a 3D board featuring a number of dice; you control a little devil guy who must rearrange the dice so that matching numbers line up and sit next to each other. When that happens the dice flash and slowly sink down into the board, or the level completes. The little devil guy can run over the tops of dice, rolling them with his feet, or can push them if he’s walking on the floor. Rearranging the dice is more difficult on the floor so to get back on top of the dice the devil can quickly run on top of any new dice that are rising upwards, or use descending dice as steps to climb back up to dice level. It’s not possible to climb up dice that are full height so care must be taken not to fall off unless you mean to. It’s also possible to ‘chain’ dice that are sinking by linking numbers together. This allows you to continually remove dice from the board, and earn more points, if you’re quick enough to react. Figuring Devil Dice out is not too difficult, but does take some practise to get good at. There’s a useful tutorial mode (“Manual”) that is worth watching before playing.

The game contains four individual modes of play: Trial, Battle, Wars, and Puzzle. In Trial mode the aim is to remove dice from the board as quickly as possible and the game ends when the board is completely filled with dice. This has a further three sub-modes of play: Endless (no time limit), Time Limited (three minutes), and Exhibition (cooperative multiplayer).

In Battle mode the aim is to compete head-to-head against either a real person or a computer-controlled opponent to be the first to line-up four different dice patterns. Every time you line up a pattern a slot in your box is filled.

Wars mode is a multiplayer mode for up to five simultaneous players (a Multi Tap is required for five players, though). The aim in this mode is to be the last devil standing by depleting your opponents’ life meter, which is done by chaining dice together, or by running the dice over opponents that are on the floor.

Puzzle mode requires you to clear all dice from 100 different boards, each one with its own goal and limited number of moves (shown as footprints). The game gives you access to ten puzzles initially, and when you’ve solved a certain number of those it unlocks the next ten, and so on. And – when you’ve cleared those – you can unlock 1,000 more puzzles by going to the stage select screen, highlighting ‘Random’ and pressing ‘X’. As you advance further into Puzzle mode different types of dice begin to appear. Some, like the iron dice, cannot be moved at all, while others move differently depending on what they’re made of. There are also occasional gaps in the floor that cannot be walked over or have dice pushed through them. The target number on each stage is shown in the top right of the screen and the number of steps you have left is shown as footprints in the bottom right.

I did notice on the US packaging for Devil Dice a quote from “GameFan” that says: “Devil Dice eclipses even Tetris“, which is nonsense, frankly. It doesn’t. Devil Dice is undoubtedly an excellent game, but it’s no Tetris because the rules are much more convoluted and it’s much harder to play/understand. While everyone is welcome to their own opinions, I always take comments from “fans” with a pinch of salt because they are usually overblown. Devil Dice is worth playing if you enjoy puzzle games, but its longevity does have obvious limits.

More: Devil Dice on Wikipedia

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