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Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: RealNetworks
Developer: Robot Super Brain
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 (1 - 2 Wireless DS Single-Card / Multi-Card Download Play)
Genre: Puzzle/ Arcade/ Card Games

Graphics & Sound:

Being that Real Networks' Tropix is a title with a mixed variety of games, it's no wonder that the audio is a bit lacking for each individual game. It's hard to put a theme to these mixed games within a game, but the developers did try to cast the game with a tropical theme as best they could. The music does the game justice and delivers the island feel quite well. As you are navigating the Menus or while playing in-game, the music will change, but the style will remain the same. While the music is far from annoying, it is safe to say that one can easily play Tropix with or without the volume enabled on the DS.

Aside from the background music, the game's audio is fairly limited. As such, the muting of the game track doesn't affect anything pertinent in the gameplay because all of the feedback that you really need to play Tropix is visual.

The DS' small screen doesn't hinder some of the games within, but it definitely hurts with others. The overall visual quality of Tropix is average, at best, yet still accomplishes what it sets out to deliver in terms of gameplay. It is unfortunate, however, that this title doesn't offer a zoom feature to help aid in the visuals, especially for those who may have poor eyesight.


Tropix contains only a handful of games ranging from Solitaire and Sandoku (the "island" version of Sudoku) to monkey and puzzle games. Just for good measure, Tropix also throws in some coconut bowling off a pier. Did I mention that there is a mixed bag of games within? I thought so. In fact, the randomness of these mini-games may turn off some casual gamers who are looking for a specific genre within their virtual pages.

The game has a pseudo Story Mode of sorts in that as you play the game, you will earn Sand Dollars that can be used to buy items for your island. These purchased items have no bearing on anything game-related, however, and are essentially a cheap way for the developers to make you earn your way to unlocking more mini-games. After completely decking out your island with miscellaneous Food, Fun, and Comfort items, you can unlock more islands at a progressively higher cost. Unfortunately, to unlock all of the islands requires a lot of gameplay time (too much for the casual gamers, if you ask me) because most of the games played won't earn you a whole lot of money... with a few exceptions.

Each game that you play will allow you to build upon your wealth at different rates. I found that the word find game (Water Words) was one that allowed you to net a lot more Sand Dollars, but only if you really studied the board and came up with a lot of very long words. This particular game can be very fun for those who like to compete against themselves because you have the option to "swap" out letters and set yourself up for big points.

Solitaire and Sandoku are as entertaining as always, and each allows for multiple difficulty settings, which helps these games be enjoyable for all gamers. The gameplay itself is perfect with these classics too, with one exception: the screen size of the DS is a real hindrance, especially since these games only really use one screen to play on. As such, not only do you really have to look hard at your selections, but you also may have slight troubles in those selections because of the precision needed with the stylus.

Another notably fun game within the Tropix environment is Coco-Bowl. Anyone who enjoys bowling, either the real thing or in a virtual environment, will likely enjoy this mini-game. However, the enjoyment that you'll get from it will inevitably result in a lot of frustration as the pins (or bottles, in this case) don't react all that well in terms of physics. Guaranteed strikes will often result is splits and vice versa. Even still, the variations are fun as well, with a moving pier (your alley), a windy pier, and an angry crab all getting in your way if you choose.

Tropix does have multiplayer features as well, and the game allows you to use either a single cartridge or play with multiple carts connecting two Nintendo DS systems wirelessly. The multiplayer options are fun, but don't entail all of the games in the same way. The bowling is a bit disappointing as well due to the pins not updating correctly on the inactive player's screen. Most of the games allow you to compete directly on the same board screen as your opponent and you will see his or her moves in real-time, however.

A complete list of games follows:

  • Solitaire: Classic card game for one.
  • Puffer Popper: Shooter of matching colors.
  • Coco-Bowl: Bowling with a twist of coconut.
  • Water Words: Classic word find.
  • Cascade: Match three like shapes to earn points.
  • Jungle Jump: Get your monkey through the jungle.
  • Shell Game: Keep your eye on the pearl.
  • Sandoku: Classic Sudoku with an island theme.
  • Parasail: Collect bonuses while guiding your monkey.
  • Beach Bash: Island version of Breakout.
  • Trijong: Another puzzler.


Tropix, in general, is a very easy game to get into and most of the games are not all that difficult to begin with. Some of the mini-games that lay within get progressively harder and are presented in stages similar to old Mario games. The two monkey games, Jungle Jump and Parasail, will require a bit more in terms of reflex actions, but still allow non-gamers to tackle the challenge ahead.

Other mini-games allow you to choose your difficulty settings at their start, essentially allowing you to choose your own destiny in terms of getting off the island. I didn't notice any drastic increase in earned Sand Dollars when playing with more difficult settings, but it's not to say that this doesn't happen. Sandoku and Solitaire are the games that allow you to choose how hard the gameplay will be. For Solitaire, the choices of Easy, Medium, and Hard will have you turning either one, two, or three cards at a time, respectively, but still allow you to flip through them as many times as necessary. Sandoku allows from the choice of four settings: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Diabolical. Good luck with that last one!

The rest of the games also get progressively harder with each increasing stage and are presented as blips of a trail on an island map. These puzzle games range from enjoyable to downright fun (especially Puffer Popper), but can get a bit crazy if you don't keep on top of the action.

Game Mechanics:

The DS' touch screen is the only thing you will use in Tropix, and for the most part, this is a good thing and is what the DS was meant for. Unfortunately for me, I didn't realize that Jungle Jump allowed for controller and button control, and instead opted to get frustrated using the stylus. Using the D-pad control was much more intuitive.

All of the other mini-games were made much more enjoyable because of the use of the stylus. Playing games like Sandoku and Solitaire, as well as most of the puzzle games, would have been much more tedious using standard controls. The problem with Solitaire, specifically, is that you have to be fairly precise to select and move a stack of cards onto another because of the small selection area you have to work with (the tops of the cards only).

The overall actions and use of the stylus comes down to simple clicking or click and drag mechanics, making Tropix easy enough to play for anyone. As such, the learning curve is relatively low as well. Had there been a bigger variety in games, or had the game stuck with specific themes (card games, sports, puzzles, etc.), it would be easier to recommend this game to more people. However, since the games are such a mixed bag and are loosely themed together only with that of Caribbean islands, many people may look for other games that fulfill their needs. For those looking for a bit of everything, however, Tropix may be the game of choice. It's hard to deny that the Sandoku, Water Words, and Solitaire games will appeal to all fans of those particular games, while the others are more or less tacked on bonuses for most people. The bowling, while not very realistic, is also a fun sidetrack in both single- and multi-player setups. With all of that said, the greatest features of Tropix are that you can easily play for only a few minutes at a time and that the games can be a bit addictive, causing you to play for an hour without realizing it.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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