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Overview

Released in early 2009 as an Xbox Live Indie Game, Hexorthermic is a puzzle game which challenges the player to explode atoms and create chain reactions to clear the level. Developed primarily by David Webb whilst at Huddersfield University, the game was released with the final developer name being Epic Pasta.

Gameplay

Hexothermic presents a unique puzzle experience. Each level takes place on the same grid, made up of a serious of connected hexagons which overlap to create triangular segments. Placed on certain intersections of the grid are atoms, each of different colors. The color of the atom represents how many electrons the atom contains and as such how close the atom is to exploding, conveying important information to the player. Each time an electron is added to an atom, the color changes. The rundown of colors, from least to most electrons, is:
  • Purple
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Red
 
When an electron is added to a red atom, the atom explodes. This explosion will not only reward the player with some points, but also send out six electrons along the grid lines of which the atom was at the centre. These electrons will then travel on to other atoms on the grid, changing their color. If these electrons hit a red atom, then that atom will also explode, creating a combo and granting the player a higher score. Naturally, studying the grid and finding an optimal solution to that level will mean a higher score and, therefore, a higher leaderboard position. This also becomes more important in the puzzle mode, where the users electrons are limited. 
 
Hexothermic also supports local, offline leaderboards for the player to place on. These leaderboards are initially populated by a score couple with an animal name (e.g. Badger) and are the same for each of the three game modes (puzzle mode does not support leaderboards).

Game Modes

Hexothermic has four game modes, each one has the same style of play but comes with a slightly different focus for the player.

Marathon

The Marathon mode allows the player to keep going as long as possible and score as many points as they can. Within Marathon mode the player has a limited amount of electrons to add to the atoms in order to clear the level. However, some electrons are given to the user each time they finish a level. 
 

Timed

With generally the exact same set-up as Marathon, Timed mode simply adds a timer to the standard Hexothermic style. This forces the player to act slightly quicker than normal in order to progress as far as possible.
 

Survival

This mode changes the game play even more from the standard Marathon mode. Inplace of being able to earn more electrons after completing a level, Survival starts the user with 99 exlectrons and challenges them to complete as many levels as possible.
 

Puzzle

Puzzle mode presents a more unique mode of play than the other three game modes. When each level starts the player is given a set amount of electrons to use. If the player can clear the level using only these electrons then they pass on to the next. However, if they fail then one life is lost. The player starts with five lives and must get through as many of the levels as possible.

Awards

In place of the Xbox 360's achievement system (which is not available to Xbox Live Indie Games), Hexothermic contains twelve awards. These awards function exactly like the standard achievement system on the Xbox 360, they simply lack the gamerscore associated with normal achievements.
 
The awards are given for accomplishing certain tasks within the game. The awards are:
  • Kaboom! - Clear an entire grid in one explosion.
  • Boom Boom Boom! - Clear 3 levels in a row with one explosion on each.
  • Big Badda Boom! - Clear 5 levels in a row with one explosion on each.
  • Boom Boom Master! - Clear 7 levels in a row with one explosion on each.
  • Marathon Master! - Get to level 10 in marathon mode.
  • Timed Master! - Get to level 10 in timed mode.
  • Survival Master! - Get to level 10 in survival mode.
  • Puzzle Master! - Complete puzzle mode.
  • Fame! - Get onto each of the highscores.
  • Hexo Monster! - Score 100,000 points in any game mode.
  • Hexo Master! - Score 200,000 points in any game mode.
  • Smile! - Find The Smilies!

Music

The music within Hexothermic is a very simple mix of different guitar samples, creating a very ambient music feel. While selecting an item from the main menu, a pre-recorded track made from the samples plays in the background. However, during gameplay the soundtrack is partly generated by the players actions.
 
Each time an electron is placed or an atom explodes, one of the music samples is played in. This means that the sound track is essentially created by the player, with different performances producing different results. Also, with each atom being the same distance away from all six surrounding atoms, each sample will be played in at a regular interval, creating a constant beat. Although not enough for Hexothermic to be considered a Music/Rhythm Game, it certainly adds an extra layer to the experience.

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