From the PopCap Vault: Venice! Or Gondolamania! (Not Really)

Life can be a real roller coaster ride, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want. That’s why there are roller coasters, and games like Zuma Blitz, Insaniquarium, Diamond Mine mode in Bejeweled on iOS, the kind of white-knuckle fun where your eyes start to water from the desperate need to blink.

But sometimes you don’t want a roller coaster. Sometimes you want to ride the teacups. And sometimes what your heart longs for is a quiet, tranquil glide along the canal in a gondola.

If you think that sounds crazy, that's because you haven't tried it yet.

When we put up our poll on Tuesday, I was pleased as punch to see not only a fair percentage of votes but even a comment in support of my pick, Venice! (Perhaps more than one comment… the reply of “add me” is a little ambiguous. “Add” you to the list of folks who’d love to see Venice for iPad?  Sure thing!  ”Add” you as a friend?  Coming on a little strong there, guy. “Add” you to the menu? Wrong post, buddy, Zombie’s on Wednesday.)

And sure, 6% isn't much, but Zuma is unfair competition.

BlogRiders may have picked up on our quiet love for Venice over the last year. We have a tendency to bring it up in almost any list of games. When I wandered around the office asking people to name their favorite PopStrip, more than one simply exclaimed, “Gondola!” And yet, I suspect not everyone has actually played this little gem of a game, and I hope to change that.

The first thing you’ll notice about Venice is the absolutely beautiful art.

Well, and the kinda creepy baby. You get used to him.

The colors are rich and vibrant, the backgrounds filled with vines and flowers against deep red bricks, aged stones, and skies the lush hues of sunrise, dusk, and everything in between. This game is just so pretty to look at, it’s good for the spirit.

And then there’s the deceptively simple gameplay. You start out with that tutorial above, and you think, “Aim and shoot shapes? Easy.”

Like fish in a barrel, so are the shapes from the gondola. Or so you imagine.

But there’s so much complexity that develops over the course of the game. The obstacles add up, and there are slots you just cannot shoot at directly — you have to use the planes and angles to bounce the shapes into place, like a game of billiards. Then the obstacles start moving, and you not only have to plan around their angles, you have to wait for them to line up just right.

Here, for instance, I utterly failed to line up my shot to get that wind tube to deliver the heart to its home. It will ricochet all over the board, and I'll have to chase it down to avoid sinking.

That need for patience and deliberation, to me, is the heart of Venice. You can’t rush through it. If I want to challenge myself with speed and reflexes and decision-making on the fly, I’ll take on Iron Frog mode in Zuma’s Revenge.  But if I want a challenge that’s more like a zen state, I go for Venice every time.  It’s a soothing experience that pleases the eye and stimulates the mind.

So that’s my pitch for my preferred candidate. Download the free trial (right now it’s PC only, but together we can change the world), give it a go, and then, if you haven’t already voted in the poll, go do that too.  You don’t have to vote for Venice… but I wouldn’t be surprised to see its percentage rise throughout the day like the water level of the canals.

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