Chime Sharp (PC) (2016)

Overview: A sequel to the 2010 music puzzle game Chime. Place blocks together to form rectangles and earn points and cover the playing field. In Standard Mode, you're racing against the clock! In Sharp Mode, use strategy to form Perfect Quads and manage block fragments.

20181212 AM Hours:
After playing Chime recently, I learned there was a sequel and that I had a key for it! So I activated the key and today I started playing it, just to see if the game was better or worse than the original.

Forming Quads in the upper left.

Setup: Keyboard (for revealing) and Mouse (for placement and rotation)

Gameplay Log:
I played the first ten levels on Standard Mode.
I played the first level on Sharp Mode.
What is a good strategy for getting 100% on Sharp Mode? Perhaps trying to get the edges early and then reuse the filled space to create Perfect Quads to manage the fragments.
I stopped playing after 2.7 hours.
However, the difficulty of Sharp Mode was enticing and I ended up playing for another half hour.

First Impression: The Standard Mode in this sequel doesn't feel as fun as the game mode in the original. Fortunately, the newly introduced Sharp Mode was entertaining. This was especially the case after I was able to make my own Perfect Quad* patterns after being inspired by some examples.

Steam Game Time: 3.2 hours (total game time)

*During the game, anytime blocks fill a rectangular area greater than three in length and three in width, a quad is formed. Any parts of a block which are not part of the Quad, are considered fragments. If, when the quad is first formed, there are no fragments, then a Perfect Quad is formed.

Forming a Perfect Quad (in my notation: YaYaT + T)


20181212 Morning:
Having achieved 98% coverage on the first level in Sharp Mode, I was determined today to get 100% on it. I tried various strategies and got close on my last run, but didn't plan out the finish as carefully as I thought.

Steam Game Time: 5.3 hours on record (total game time)

20181212 Afternoon:
I started looking for Perfect Quads (see "The Mathematics of Perfect Quads" below). Eventually I tried to tackle the level, and despite my improved ability to make Perfect Quads, I still lost, because I didn't manage my fragments correctly.

Shapes:
T   Ya Yb I C  i t   . L   o  S

TTT Y   Y I CC i ttt . L   oo  SS
 T  Ya bY I C  i  t    L   oo SS
 T  Y   Y I CC         LLL    S
    Y   Y I
          I

Level 1: T, Ya, Yb, I, C, L.
(1, 4): i i + T; t + C; o + L | impossible Yx, I,
(2, 2): . . + CT; . . + YxYx; . . + CC; i + TL; i + YxC; . / . + SS
(3, 0): III
(3, 1): . + LC + Yx (the choice of Yx depends on placement of LC); . + TC + Yx (similar to (2, 2)'s . . + CT except second . becomes Yx); . + YxL + T (for this one, I was thinking, there must be a way to use Yx first... it's annoying to have to wait for just C's) | impossible: YxYx

Available Songs

(3, 3): There's quite a number of situations with (3, 3) and this is very situational. It's usage would generally be difficult. Better to reduce this to a (2, 8).
(4, 0): YaYaT + T or YbYbT + T (I came up with this one yesterday night!); II I + I; YaYb + C + T or YaYb + T + C (similar to (3, 1)'s . + TC + Yx; due to YaYaT + T, it's better to use YaYb + T + C) | impossible ST

Remark: I was thinking about a way to reduce larger cases down to smaller cases. In particular, thus far I noticed that a solution to (2, 2) turned into a similar solution to (3, 1), which in turn turned into a similar solution to (4, 0).

Steam Game Time: 7.6 hours on record (total game time)

The Mathematics of Perfect Quads
I immediately found the formation of Quads to be interesting mathematically. Essentially, a Perfect Quad can be thought of as a combination of full blocks (5 squares each) and fragments (1 square each). Thus the number of squares in the Perfect Quad are n = 5*b+f, where b is the number of blocks and f is the number of fragments. To determine possible Quads, we find possible integer lengths and widths (i.e., factor pairs) for a rectangle of size n for which both the length and width are greater than or equal to three.

For example, when there are no fragments and three blocks, the total number of squares is 15. The number 15 has factor pairs 1*15 and 3*5. Of the two dimensions, only 3*5 can be the dimensions of a Quad. Thus, to form a Perfect Quad from three blocks, the constituent blocks must fit into a 3 by 5 rectangle. Depending on the level and available blocks, this may or may not be possible, but the knowledge of the area restriction is informative to the construction of possible Perfect Quads.

Forming a Perfect Quad (in my notation: YaYbT + C)

Elaborating, had we considered one block or two blocks, we'd mathematically be able to prove that there are no configurations for a Perfect Quad. With one block, n = 5, the only factor pair is 1*5 and that cannot be the dimensions of a Quad. With two blocks, n = 10, which can has factor pairs 1*10 and 2*5, neither of which can be the dimensions of a Quad.

Moving towards the application, one can go through each case of n and f and determine the possible area restrictions. Then, depending on the level, consider each piece and assume that it will be the last piece placed in the area. By definition of a Perfect Quad, the pieces placed prior to the last piece must not have already formed a Quad. This consequently places a maximum size on the Quad and restrictions on the placement of the final piece.

To determine the worst-case scenario maximum size of a Perfect Quad, we can assume the final block fits into a 1 x 5, 2 x 4, or 3 x 3. Then enlarge the dimensions by four (visually, one can imagine a two-square border). Thus, for these three sizes, when the final block is in the middle, the maximum Perfect Quad dimensions would be 5 x 9, 6 x 8, or 7 x 7.

We can use the above information to form a table* of possible Perfect Quad dimensions. We also only need to check n up to the worst-case maximum area of 49.

Forming a Perfect Quad (in my notation: . + CL + Yb)

(b,f)nPossible Perfect Quad Dimensions
(1,4)93*3
(2,2)123*4
(3,0)153*5
(3,1)164*4
(3,3)183*6
(4,0)204*5
(4,1)213*7
(4,4)243*8, 4*6
(5,0)255*5
(5,2)273*9
(5,3)284*7
(6,0)305*6
(6,2)324*8
(7,0)355*7
(7,1)364*9, 6*6
(8,0)405*8
(8,2)426*7
(9,0)455*9
(9,3)486*8
(9,4)497*7

Controls

*Originally, I create the table by first omitting values of n which are prime or twice a prime number. Then I listed out all the factor pairs where both factors are greater than three. Finally, I struck out factor pairs which exceeded the maximum allowable dimension. In hindsight, I realized that the table was more easily generated by going through multiples of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, while staying within one of the three maximum dimensions.

[20181212]

Thoughts:
Pros:
+ More levels and more modes (compared to Chime)
+ Visual upgrade (compared to Chime) and various color schemes available

Neutral:
~ The original game mode feels different (compare to Chime)
~ Medium to high difficulty

Cons:
- For whatever reason, the songs in Chime Sharp aren't as interesting as the songs in Chime. When playing Chime, I could feel the songs progress as I made progress.

Summary:
It's hard to describe, but I essentially I both disliked the game and was addicted to trying to complete one of the levels (get 100% coverage on Sharp Mode); I suppose I was more addicted to the accomplishment than the game itself.

Forming a Perfect Quad (in my notation: i + L + T)

Overall, I'd say Chime Sharp is more difficult and intense than Chime, and players looking for a more casual, relaxing game are better off getting a copy of Chime or just look elsewhere. At the very least, I would recommend downloading and trying the demo first.

Chime Sharp (PC) (2016)

Relevant Links:
Chime Sharp Website
Chime (video game) (Wikipedia.org)
Chime Sharp (PC) (MetaCritic.com)
Chime Sharp (Steam Store Page)





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