Spring Up Harmony

(Originally published on my 1up.com blog in August 2010)

Such is my love for the Atari 2600 game KABOOM!, that when 1UP user wondermega wrote a Retro Game of the Day blog about it, his genius compelled me to create the following poetry:

Bombs are falling, falling fast
If you don’t catch them all, you will not last
Back and forth, you must spin that roller
Don’t try playing with a Colecovision controller
It sucks

In a completely bizarro marketing move that would never happen in the current days of console egocentricity, the Colecovision had an adapter for it that allowed one to play Atari 2600 games. Problem was, the Colecovision controller looked and functioned a lot like a cellular phone from the 1980s, and not a valid input device. When my family upgraded from our wood-grain 2600 to the solid, black lines of the Colecovision, no one saw fit to retain the most essential of Atari input devices, the analog paddle. It would be 23 years, all the way to the PS2-era before we would get another analog controller as prominent as this. Analog is the word of import in this case, as KABOOM! requires a precision in bomb-catching water bucket placement that reaches far beyond the capabilities of any digital pad. Much to my chagrin, I was forced to fall back upon the digital input of the Colecovision phone pad, meaning I could only catch bombs that were dropped on either the extreme left or right of the screen. Believe you me, no amount of phone pad fuckery could convince that damn striped-suited convict to only drop bombs in those particular locations.

Now, though, in the time of dual-analog sticks, I could no doubt catch a steady stream of explosive projectiles using nothing more than my thumb. Unfortunately, though they have announced a return to Haunted House, Atari has yet to announce a rebirth of KABOOM!. In the meantime, we can enervate our disappointment with the new Xbox Live Indie game Spring Up Harmony. Available on the Xbox Marketplace for 240 points, Spring Up Harmony takes the basic premise of Peggle, adds a bit of Bust-a-Move, then stirs in some delightful KABOOM!.

Unlike Peggle, instead of taking out bricks and balls as you please, you must match the color of the ball to the color of the brick. Once hit, a brick will begin to fall. A solid hit from a same colored brick on it’s way down will send others careening towards their destiny at the bottom of the screen, as well. These bricks (though-not-all-brick-shaped-but-for-the-sake-of-clarity-will-be-referred-to-as-such)…their destiny lies with you, my friends. Besides controlling the ball shooting device’s aiming mechanism, the analog stick also controls a small bucket at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to catch the falling bricks and increase your score. Luckily, Spring Up Harmony is far more forgiving than the KABOOM! convict ever was, so catching all bricks is not required. The ultimate goal is to hit and then catch the few special “Harmony” bricks that sparkle like a vampire in the morning sun. As the levels progress, a few other items are thrown into the mix that effect the balls and bricks physics, such as motors, fans, and diabolical spinny thing-a-ma-giggys. Perhaps I have underestimated Spring Up Harmony’s convict-like tendencies, but don’t be too put off by them. Only the return of the one, true bomb dropping convict will be cause for alarm, and that probably won’t be any time soon.

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