Mole Control

MindSweeper with exploding moles; sign me up!

So as I entered the sleepy town of Molar Creek two thoughts popped into my head. The first was, “I wonder what the real estate value of a home was in such an idyllic location.” The other was, “I wonder if Bill Murray is going to show up and help like in Caddy Shack.” I of course realised that this being Molar Creek, I was going to be dealing with Moles and not gofers, and that Molar Creek wasn’t a real town so why was I worrying about the price of land.

Mole Control is mind sweeper, except instead of a mouse cursor you ride along in a hover saucer with a massive vacuum and a propeller, and instead of mines you have to find and suck up explosive moles.

Visually the game has a nice happy cartoon look to it. It gives you something bright and colourful for you to stare at instead of a 32×32 grey grid with flags and x’s. For those of you, who may find the sight of moles exploding difficult to watch, don’t fret. At no point will you be subject to having to witness giblets of moles raining down on the character in a shower of gore.

To compliment these smile inducing graphics is a rather infectious soundtrack that never really gets old. It is like the developer went out and created the perfect soundtrack of poppy elevator music. Not too intrusive and never annoying.

The Story is a deep inter personal drama showing us the effects that living in a town full of deadly explosive moles has on an already broken family. It’s a tragic tale and you can’t help but be pulled into this family’s sorrowed story of loss and redemption. That of course is both a giant lie and the complete opposite of the story line of Mole Control; it’s actually a very simple. It’s a, “It is your duty, now do it!” plotline. But really would you enjoy yourself if in each level you had to witness the struggle of the broken family I’ve described?

However what really matters with a title like this is gameplay. For Mole Control it fires on almost all of its cylinders but does have its problems.

The game as I informed you earlier is a lot like minesweeper in theory. The goal is to figure out which tiles of a lawn are safe and which ones hold moles. So your job is to move your hover saucer from title to title figuring out the safe ones and which could possibly hold the mole(s).

The game however doesn’t leave you to just guess. Whenever you come close to a mole a digital flower will pop up telling you that somewhere within your radius is a mole or moles. Its then your job to figure out where they are and suck them out of the ground using an adjacent tile.

What works is the combination of the wacky setting and the interesting gameplay additions to the classic minesweeper gameplay, making the game both accessible to pretty much everyone while also still feeling fresh.

The game does a good job of making you feel accomplished when you’ve found a mole on a particularly tricky lawn. It also does a great job of making sure the challenges rise in difficulty at a very natural pace, meaning you’ll never feel like you were chugging along and then all of sudden were smacked with having to figure the meaning of life while searching for an explosive mole.

The game does have some real flaws to it. The biggest one occurs when you get to the really large lawns that look like they were the dropping off point for a rather large Tornado. Searching and criss-crossing through these tile sets can go from challenging to tedious rather quickly. It’s a fine line, one the game wasn’t quite able to straddle well enough.

Also for me the control system was rather annoying. I understood the purpose of making it a click system where you could only move one tile at a time, but there were times when I would get frustrated with the restrictive movement.

Mole Control may not be a perfect game and it sure as hell doesn’t follow the fall and rise of a dysfunctional family in the town of Molar Creek. But what it is, is a fun title that can be enjoyed by a vast audience. A good balance of difficulty but challenging puzzles makes sure the player is never bored.

P.S. Just so PETA doesn’t send me e-mails no moles were harmed in the making of or while playing this game.

Review copy provided by publisher.