Before Q Entertainment came out with the one-two release of Lumines and Meteos, it had been years since a puzzle game garnered much critical or commercial attention. These two puzzle games arguably traded on slick presentation as much as they did on inventive and addictive puzzle concepts, and with success comes imitators. Hudson's Honeycomb Beat does its damnedest to emulate the look and feel of Q Entertainment's finest. In this regard, it's fairly successful, if patently derivative. The gameplay concept isn't a bad one, and it benefits from having two unique modes with distinctly different focal points. What hurts the experience, though, is a lack of evolution. The game gets harder the longer you play it, that's for sure, but it's missing the hook that makes you really need to play it for long.
From the name, you might infer that Honeycomb Beat is some kind of rhythm-puzzle mash-up, but in truth, rhythm, or time at all, has little impact on the fundamental concept behind the game. You're presented with a two-tone grid of hexagons. Using the stylus, you can tap (or "beat") any hexagon, and it'll flip over, changing from one color to another--from "off" to "on," if you will. The rub is that in doing so, it changes the color of any of the other hexagons that it's in direct contact with, which means that, depending on their starting position, turning one hexagon on might turn its six surrounding hexagons off. That's really all there is to it. While the two primary modes of play work with this concept to produce disparate results, both focus on grappling with the six-sided logic.
In the puzzle mode, you're presented with a uniquely shaped grid, usually with a few very specific hexagons in the on position, and your challenge is to turn on the entire grid. There's no time limit, but you've got a limited number of beats per puzzle. It's a soft limit, though, and you'll still get partial credit for solving a puzzle even if you go over by a few beats. There are around 200 unique puzzles to be solved, though the first 30 or 40 puzzles don't put up much of a fight, with simple grid designs that require one or two beats to solve. After that, the difficulty isn't always consistent, but the puzzles get pretty diabolical, with serpentine grid designs that can require eight or more beats to solve. Additional kinks arise in the form of special icons that affect the way hexagons they're placed on behave. Arrow icons will cause a straight line of hexagons to flip, rather than the usual concentric circle. Other icons will prevent hexagons from flipping until they've been hit with a number of beats or cause the hexagons surrounding it to flip without flipping that hexagon itself. While a number of the puzzles can be vexing, it's not hard to tear through a surprising majority of them in an afternoon's time.