Review – Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase
Besides the fact it was one of the few Switch launch titles that were, until now, exclusive to Japan, I knew very little of the puzzle game Soldam. After a quick research, however, I found out this was a revival of an old Game Boy title by the now-defunct Jaleco, that game being a puzzle spin-off of another game called Rod Land. Yeah, the more you know…
Anyway, here we are in September of 2017 and Soldam has arrived on Western shores, and despite its childish looks, there’s more than meets the eye.
Soldam‘s objective is very straightforward: clear horizontal lines by filling them up with fruits of the same color. In theory, that’s simple. In practice, however, the game is a bit more complex and confusing than that. You can change the colors of the plums by flanking them with plums of other colors. For instance, put a green plum both right and left of a yellow plum, and it becomes green. You’ll need to use this strategy in order to properly create chains and combos, since you’re not always going to be given a perfect square of plums of the same color. I had to learn this by basically failing a lot throughout the game: Soldam doesn’t feature a proper tutorial, instead having a twelve-page in-game instruction manual as a “beginner’s guide.” While that helped me learn the core principles of the game, it still took me a while to get used to the whole flanking mechanic. The most helpful tool in the whole game is the hint mode hidden in the options menu. Make sure to turn the damn thing on in order to properly enjoy Soldam.
Once you properly learn how to play Soldam, it’s like you’re playing a brand new game, as it becomes a lot more enjoyable and even a bit addictive, a great pick-up-and-play experience for a portable console. You’ll even ignore the fact the game looks quite bland visually-speaking (it’s all still images) by paying complete attention to the tons of plums falling out of the sky. In order to offer players a bit more content, the game also features a few “collectibles” in the form of little cat-shaped creatures that can change their color by being fed a certain amount of plums of a certain color. Just a little extra for all you completionists out there. There are also a handful of challenges and a good old multiplayer option.
Don’t be fooled by its diabetes-inducing sweetness, Soldam is a tough puzzler, especially in the beginning, due to its lackluster “tutorial” of sorts. Once you get acquainted with its controls, rules and mechanics, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable.
With a library saturated with puzzle games, is Soldam worth grabbing for the Switch? I’d say yes. The game isn’t the best puzzler for the console, but it falls into the category of the better puzzle games for it, such as Puyo Puyo Tetris and Photon³, while being much better than stuff like Othello or Boost Beast (I’m still going to talk about those bad boys, don’t you worry). If you’re into puzzle games, go for it. This type of game is perfect for a system like the Switch anyway.
Copy of Soldam provided by publisher.