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A.P.I Review: Live Wire
Developer: Code Monkeys OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: SCi 1-2 Player
Game Type: Puzzle Memory Card
Review Date: March 1999 Dual Shock Compatible

Setting the Scene

Puzzle games are few and far between on the Playstation. Successful formulas are often repeated over and over again with little new to offer the gamer. While the Bust-A-Move's and Super Puzzle Fighter's of this world remain highly addictive they hardly stretched the boundaries of the consoles graphical capabilities.

Recently we have been treated to a new strain of 3D puzzles in the form of Roll Away/Kula World, Mr Domino and Devil Dice. SCi are about to release their new project where play takes place on the grid lines of 3 dimensional wire frame landscapes and objects.


3D Puzzle game.


The visual content within Live Wire reminded me of the graphics previously seen in Parappa The Rapper. The rich, vibrant playing surface and scenic surroundings appears to have been sketched and then quickly brushed in with watercolors rather than constructed from smooth slabs of polygon. In fact the over-use of bright colors occasionally looked like an explosion in a paint factory. I dare say if you fell asleep in front of the screen with Live Wire still running you could possibly waken up with a sun-tan.

I am still unsure as to what the character that the player controls is supposed to be. It looks similar to a zeppelin at a carnival, but scurries around the board like a clockwork mouse. The 3D levels are populated by many unusual characters that endeavour to make life increasingly more difficult for the players. These turn up in many forms such as sharks at the beach, transparent ghosts in the haunted level and grandfather clocks in the rickety old house. Traps, blockades and other hindrances also exist to challenge the players.

The game may be viewed from two perspectives... first or third. Don't even try the first person mode, you'll end up dizzier than a dog chasing it's tail on a waltzer. The third person angle is fine with the distance and tilt of the camera also adjustable.

Overall I would say that the graphics were outrageous... but functional.

Sounds and Effects

The sound effects are fairly basic, being a collection of blips, bleeps and booms. The music on the other hand is very up tempo and compliments the fast and furious pace of the game. The tracks are fairly similar although there is a slight variation to suit the theme of the level.


Live Wire is effectively a competitive video board game for 1-2 players. Game modes include Competition play and Team play. There are always going to be four players on the board at one time up to three of them may be controlled by the computer.

The main objective involves players navigating their way around a large gridded themed area. These grid lines change color as the player crosses over them. When all the containing edges of an area are colored in, the space inside flips over forming a solid textured polygon tinted in the player's color. Once all are filled in or a time out occurs, the player with the largest amount of turned tiles is awarded a win point and play progresses to the next level.

Bonuses are hidden beneath random tiles which if collected may be stored inside the players inventory and used against any opponent upon command. Each bonus in the inventory is indicated on the play area with a flag in the owning player's color. The inventory can hold five items and appears at the top of the screen. Bonuses include various missiles or the capability to steal opponents collected squares.

The controls are extremely simple to use making Live Wire accessible to all ages. Your character is moved around the grid by using the D-pad. Sadly the analog stick does not function resulting in a bruised thumb after long periods of play. Two of the face buttons are configured to browse inventory and select bonus. The remaining buttons are used to adjust viewing angles. Childs play!

Live Wire features 50 unique levels based around themed environments. Each theme offers different looks and modified game play.

The five environments are:
Oceanic: Desert islands and Under water.
Spooky: Haunted Houses and Graveyards.
Space: Planets, Alien Landscapes and Space Stations.
Fun Fair: Roller Coasters and Helter Skelters.
Wild West: Western Towns, Indian Reserves and Gold Mines.

Levels will be made up of any combination of shapes of cells, including square, hexagonal, octagonal, and rectangle. When a player completes all 5 levels in an environment, they will win a "prize" either a key or a token.

A radar shows the relative positions of the other players in the game. The player is represented by a dot in the centre of the radar with the other players shown as colored dots. Each game lasts for three minutes with all characters being allowed six lives. A life is lost when a characters health bar reaches zero.

Live Wire is one of those games that you will either love... or loath. Even though the player only has to get used to working the D-Pad it does take a while before you stop overshooting each junction. However it does improve after time. The single player game can be so frustrating, especially when the clock reaches it's final few seconds and a CPU opponent claims ALL of your collected squares leaving you with nothing but a sore thumb for your effort. Of course this is specifically what makes Live Wire a good multi-player game... especially when the same fate is performed on a human opponent.

Value for Money

With 50 unique levels Live Wire offers a wide variation of challenging courses and all are not played on a flat rectangular surface. As you advance through the game railway tracks, haunted houses and even a Helter Skelter is used as a theme. Unfortunately the gameplay seldom changes... winning just becomes harder.

GRAPHICS: 13/20 As a single player event Live Wire lacked that addictive quality which makes the best puzzle games stand out from the crowd. I was happy to play through the first twenty or so levels in single player mode but purely for the purpose of reviewing the game.

However two player split screen mode extended the gameplay. But then puzzle games are designed for entertaining the crowds rather than satisfying a trigger happy hermit.
SOUND: 6/10
VALUE: 15/20


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