Bigger And/Or Better

Welcome to the working world. We're gonna leverage your synergy and have you shove some boxes around for some reason. There's free coffee in the break room.

My introduction to the world of Sokoban box pushing video games came from Masaya's Shove It! - The Warehouse Game, release in 1990 on the Sega Genesis. The appropriately named Stevedore was the focus of a plot in which he took a job organizing warehouses to earn money to buy a nice car in order to land a loose woman. Why such a simple game needs a plot, let alone one as insulting to potentially half of its audience, I don't know, but here comes Bigger And/Or Better, a Sokoban for Xbox Indies which marries the tried and true box pushing puzzles with bits of vaguely communistic takes on capitalism and vice versa.

Bigger And/Or Better entices with its very attractive cover artwork and interesting theme, but the game itself fails to do anything of note with its premise, at least going by the demo. The game utilizes a very Spartan look a simple four-color scheme over a background of lightly crumpled paper. There is no animation whatsoever here, but the simplistic and speedy movements are the foundation of the gameplay as Bigger And/Or Better pushes the player to solve the Sokoban as quickly as possible. Whereas most games of this sort allow players to leisurely derive solutions and score based on the number of moves required to complete the solution, Bigger And/Or Better cares little about procedure and more about efficiency. While the two go hand in hand, the game is only concerned with the amount of puzzles solved before the timer runs out. Everything is rushed and to be performed at a frantic pace, and I find it is a gameplay change which makes Bigger And/Or Better an interesting twist on an ancient puzzle design.

Unfortunately, the demo caps off too quickly, leaving the player wondering how long of a game Bigger And/Or Better is. The bits of flavor text allude to an interesting concept but don't offer enough detail nor are displayed with enough frequency to give the game proper meaning. If Bigger And/Or Better is designed as commentary on work in the industrialized world, then it does a half-assed job of it, spitting out bumper stickers trying to give meaning to such an otherwise basic game. This is fine to an extent -- it's a reasonable theme to use for this style of game, and what is seen is entertaining -- but Bigger And/Or Better fails at indicating how long this is to go on and what if any long term plans should be considered going ahead. With a base price of just 80 points, it's certainly an affordable gamble to see what the full game offers, but with what little effort is shown during the trial in the way of graphics, settings, and anything and everything one expects from a video game, Bigger And/Or Better makes a weak push to get players to buy into the game.

Bigger And/Or Better is tentatively one of the better Sokoban style games on the Xbox Indies channel, but it's hardly a ringing endorsement for the game itself. While the pressure paced puzzle solving and teasted atmosphere are intriguing, the game feels like but a sketch of a work in progress instead of something better developed and competing for sales against other legitimate releases. Given how pervasive Sokoban is throughout gaming and the Internet, Bigger And/Or Better at best gets a mild recommendation due to its atmosphere and pacing but ultimately lackluster delivery.

★★☆☆☆
September 21, 2010
August 25, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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