In the original PlayStation era, the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine used to include a demo disc with every single issue of their magazine (allegedly, they were the first ever magazine to do so.) The 13th iteration of this grand tradition was a feast to behold; not only did it include playable demo versions of Metal Gear Solid and Cool Boarders 3 (both of which I sank dozens of hours into), it also included a demo for a quaint little puzzle game called Devil Dice.
In Devil Dice, you played as a little devil character (who kind of resembled a kid in footie pajamas or, God forbid, one of the Teletubbies) who gleefully rode atop a series of dice. As the devil skipped along a grid that sort of resembled a checker board, he (or she, I suppose; the gender seemed rather ambiguous) would flip whichever die he/she was standing on. The goal was to line up dice with the same numbers facing upward in groups of however many dots were on the dice. For example, you had to match four 4s or five 5s in order to score.
This could be especially tricky, since every time you moved a die it would rotate, unless you hopped off the top of the die to push it around. However, if you pulled off this move, you had to wait for another die to rise up from the board and lift you back up before you could start hopping on top of the rows of dice again.
Yes, it sounds a little confusing in text, so here’s a gameplay video:
While it was never destined to overthrow the master of all puzzle games Tetris, it was incredibly addictive, sold over a million copies, and was reviewed pretty positively. For example, IGN gave it a 9/10, and Devil Dice was chosen as Game Informer‘s Puzzle Game of the Year for 1998.
It went on to spawn a couple of Japan-exclusive sequels/remakes, Xi Jumbo and Xi Coliseum, and would eventually see a PS2 sequel called Bombastic. But since then, it has all but disappeared. It was supposed to see a PSP re-release as a PSOne Classic back in 2007, which, as far as I can tell, released as either a demo version of the Japanese game or didn’t release at all (sources seem conflicted on this). It’s a shame, because I would have gladly plunked down $5-10 to replay the full version of this addictive masterpiece.
Thankfully, the game still exists in its original form as an unlockable bonus inside of Bombastic.
Still, how does a beloved puzzle game — considered one of the best puzzlers of the PlayStation lineup (in fact, Racketboy.com still considers it one of the best “undiscovered” PlayStation games) and a million-seller — fade into almost complete obscurity in less than 20 years?
The initial publisher was THQ, which was liquidated in 2013 with all its then-current franchises being auctioned off to other companies. Devil Dice was never on the auction block, though. Bombastic was a Capcom release, so one must wonder if the IP is currently wasting away unused in Capcom’s figurative vaults or if it ended up in the hands of someone else.
Either way, if you can chase down a copy of Devil Dice for PSOne (or Bombastic for PS2), do yourself a favor and snatch up one of the most under-appreciated puzzle games ever made. Devil Dice simply doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.