Video Game / Wind And Water: Puzzle Battles

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Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles is a 2007 block-matching puzzle game developed by Yuan Works, a company based in Costa Rica. It was originally released for the portable GP2X and got a 2008 port for the Dreamcast and a 2011 port for PC.

The general rule in the game is to swap the element-themed blocks around and match a minimum of 4 of the same color in a diamond shape, clearing any gems of the same color next to them and opening the way for chains to rack up more points. The game can be played in three modes with different ways of scoring large combinations and chains.

The game has a robust story mode involving a girl named Amy on a quest to recover the five elements and recruit people for a puzzle tournament, while the developers' avatars try to keep her from finding the game isn't quite feature-complete yet. It also has a puzzle mode in which the player must clear the board in a limited amount of moves.

The freeware PC version of the game can be downloaded here.

It had a successful Greenlight campaign for a 2017 re-release on Steam with an online versus mode.

This game features the following tropes:

  • Accidental Pervert: Hao removes Amy's clothes by accident while trying to fix her graphical glitches and gets some energy blasts shot at him for his troubles.
  • Art Shift:
    • Aiba is a 8-bit character looking around for armors that expand the wearer's color palette. After a few changes he finally gets rendered in the same style as Amy.
    • Amy has an unfinished dialogue portrait that's still in a chunky 8-bit style.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Full screen clears require you to obtain and keep both the wind and void blocks and then set them on a 7-block hexagon containing one block of each color. It's quite the difficult thing to set up, but if done on the Time Chain SP mode, it starts a special mode where the combo timer barely ticks down when you're not making a move.
  • Audience Surrogate: The protagonist Amy is a gamer who, like the player, is learning to play a puzzle game designed by Yuan-Hsi and Yuan-Hao.
  • Author Avatar: The brothers Yuan-Hao (programmer) and Yuan-Hsi (artist, composer) are recurring characters, bosses and also playable.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: When Hao tells Amy to bring (programming) bugs to him, she instead brings a large beetle and freaks him out. Yuan is rather grossed out as well and tells Amy to let "Timmy" go back home.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Later on the story, a shadowy figure starts ominously talking in chinese to Yuan and Hao while also throwing threats in english. Players who can read kanji will know in advance that he's actually their grumpy father and is simply scolding them.
  • Body Horror: Amy's sprite begins glitching up early on and not much later she tuns into a mixed mess of tiles.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The levels unlocked after clearing special objectives in some of the normal ones. And also the levels after the second ending, which according to the characters actually haven't been tested properly.
  • Bookends: One of the first and last cutscenes quote from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
  • Color Failure:
    • Hao freezes once he notices Amy is ignoring his programming lecture.
    • Amy turns to stone when she realizes the brothers have somehow deleted her clothes while restoring her graphics.
  • Console Cameo:
    • The portable GP2X is seen at several points and is also a secret character.
    • The Dreamcast's VMU is one of the story's bosses.
  • Credits Gag: The game first ends with half of the map unexplored and A Winner Is You cutscene with engrishy credits. Amy chews the developer brothers about it and goes on with her quest.
  • Development Hell: Invoked and discussed, as a couple of characters are from projects that the developers lament not having been able to realize.
  • Excuse Plot: The Author Avatar brothers send Amy on a quest to restore the elements and gather people to play the game to keep her from finding out they're not done working in the game yet. It's only after the second ending that an antagonist comes up threatening to break the timeline or something.
  • Fake Longevity:
    • The game imposes several limits on the player's Yuan Points wallet, so you have to spend all your points several times just to expand it instead of unlocking stuff.
    • All the minigames are mandatory in Story Mode, but beating their hellish Hard modes there for whatever reason doesn't mark it as done in the minigame menu proper.
  • Freeware Games: The original PC version.
  • Guide Dang It!: Versus mode in its entirety. How does scoring affect the attack and defense stats? How are those stats actually converted into damage to the opponent's field? What triggers the danger gauge and what breaks it? "Stances"?? The game's list of tutorials have nothing on this mode for some reason!
  • Idle Animation: If left idle on the map screen, Amy pulls out a GP2X and starts playing with it.
  • Lazy Artist: In-universe, Yuan-Hao and Yuan-Hsi are in a constant hurry to get the game done before Amy comes across glitches and unfinished content. Amy often catches them loafing around and making half-assed excuses for anything that looks cheap.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The characters don't actually adress the player over the screen, but the story mode is about the developers showing off both the game and the troubles of a game creator to Amy, and by extension the player themself.
  • Long Title: Wind and Water: Grand Battle of the Five Ancient Elements of Space and Time. It is rarely actually called that anywhere, though, even though the significance of the subtitle comes up as a plot point in the game.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Falling block puzzles and miscellaneous objectives with strict time limits remain a match made in Hell.
  • Match Four Game: A "Swapping" type with 5-7 block colors and a diamond-shaped cursor to rotate them.
  • Mercy Mode: You can buy Cheese items to skip levels if you('re) s(t)uck on them. And although the game claims nobody but you will know whether you've chessed any levels, the game does keep track of that on your status card.
  • Metafiction: The plot is a making-of of the game and the past works of the developers.
  • The Nudifier: When Amy's graphics turn garbled beyond recognition, Hao does some fine tuning and fixes her... only for her to be left in her undies. Hao assumes he accidentally "reset her clothes", but judging from the in-universe logic, it's more like Yuan drew her like that for the heck of it.
  • Obvious Beta: Parodied. Amy heckles the developers about the cheapo feel of the story mode and the brothers themselves admit to not testing things throughly and consider just making post-release patches as they go along.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Hao puts on a flimsy disguise to play a shopkeeper and a "Dr. Left" scientist role because he has no supporting cast. Yuan also plays a samurai in one minigame. Both brothers vehemently deny their real identities in front of Amy, even placing the other brother in disguise or a dummy so both people are seen at the same time.
  • Sequence Breaking: Some levels have secret objectives that open alternate routes that sometimes skip large chunks of the game. The requiriments are generally high enough that novice players would only clear them out of sheer dumb luck.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Some dialogue ("I've come to put an end to this", "But enough talk, have at you") references Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
    • Hao plays the role of "Dr. Left" the scientist at certain points, referencing Dr. Light's appearance in holograms during the Mega Man X series.
    • A Dreamcast VMU working for "SOGA" appears during story mode. He displays Pong and a close-up of Sonic's face while introducing himself to Amy.
    • Yuan, er, "Genji" quotes the "all your base are belong to us" line from Zero Wing at one point.
  • SNK Boss: The final boss, Shinji. The guy makes dozens of chains and amazing combinations with every. single. move. he makes, making defeating him all but completely impossible. He collects an average of 10000 points per minute and even keeps going for as long as possible after stomping you under his feet.
  • Some Dexterity Required: The game is easy enough to pick and play, but figuring out how to properly score points for those seemingly impossible secret goals and levels takes more than a little bit of training, planning and lightning-fast reflexes. And then there's the hard mode for each minigame, which can be a larger hurdle than the main game missions following them.
  • Timed Mission: Some missions require you to perform some task on a minute on two.
  • Title Drop: Played with in that near the end Amy drops a variation of the chinese title that the average player wouldn't have known about: "Wind and Water: the Five Ancient Elements of Space and Time".
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: About half of the minigames on hard mode, especially the memorization madness that are Digipet Roller and Sunset Driver.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The player must clear some reflex-based minigames over the course of the story mode.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Aiba speaks like this. And when Amy tries to do the same...
    "Oh, mhy name is Amy! Nice to meet thyou!"

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