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10/17/2002: Crack Attack! [>> Go]

    I've been addicted to this free little game for a few weeks now. Crack Attack! runs in Windows or Linux, and, the site says, it is based on the Super Nintendo game "Tetris Attack". You start with a random assortment of multi-colored blocks, with new rows of blocks added from the bottom so that your entire stack grows upward. You use the "cursor" to swap two horizontally-adjacent blocks, trying to match 3 or more of the same color either horizontally or vertically. If you match more than 3 at once, or perform other feats of skill, "garbage" will fall from above; to get rid of the garbage, you must complete a match (3 or more blocks) that touches it. There are more intricacies, as well as an "extreme play" mode that throws in more quirks than I can handle right now. Crack Attack! makes a fun, short diversion that's a nice break from the first-person-shooter games you can buy at the store. Crack Attack! can also be played over a network (TCP/IP, i.e. Internet) so you can challenge your friends to a game without having to go visit them :) I haven't had a chance to try this feature, so I don't know if it actually works or not. In 2-player mode, when you match 4 or more blocks, your opponent gets the "garbage" instead of you (but of course you get "garbage" on your stack when they match 4 or more blocks too).

    The first few times I played Crack Attack!, I got frustrated because I wasn't scoring well at all. It took a couple more games before I started figuring out strategies and understanding all the ways to manipulate blocks to get them where I wanted them. I kept looking for a way to swap 2 vertical blocks, but there isn't one so you develop ways to work around that.

    The only bad thing I would say about Crack Attack! is that it's a CPU hog while the game itself is running. On my 500 mHz Pentium III with 384MB RAM it takes over 100% of the CPU, even while it's paused. That doesn't mean that you can't pause it and do other things, but everything else on your computer will probably run a little sluggishly if you've got the Crack Attack! game screen open.

Update 6/7/2003:    I recently upgraded my video card's driver (I have an nVidia TNT2 card) with the latest drivers available from nVidia's Web site, and the Crack Attack game screen doesn't work properly anymore. Once the game starts, all the blocks get an annoying blue tint that makes the block's original color indeterminable. I downgraded to a previous driver and the problem went away, then re-upgraded and it appeared again, so I'm fairly confident it has something to do with the driver (or possibly an incompatibility between the new driver and my outdated video hardware). I've tried adjusting the OpenGL settings in the new driver, but nothing changes it except switching my video display to 256 colors, which is not a solution. I just wanted to make people aware of it in case they run into the same problem. The picture to the right is what the broken Crack Attack screen looks like.

    My high score to date: 1337.

©2017 Tyler Chambers