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Coign of Vantage

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Rating: 4.3/5 (120 votes)
Comments (41) | Views (5,567)

PsychotronicCoign of VantageSimplify, simplify. Coign of Vantage is the latest in Bobblebrook's collection of worldly, sensitive casual games, and the gameplay mechanic couldn't be more basic. An icon appears on your screen, shattered into a cloud of its component pixels, and your job is to reassemble them into the original picture. To do this, just point at the correct location on the screen. Once you find the magical hot-spot (no clicking required), the icon will snap into focus and another one will immediately appear, waiting to be re-congregated.

By itself, this is nothing new. I've focused a picture this way in Wario Ware before, and I expect the idea goes back much further. But Bobblebrook casts an audio-visual spell over the whole business that makes a mundane concept feel almost mystical. Your 2-D mouse gestures move the pixels in 3-D space, you see. They wheel around a mysterious point of reference like obedient electrons. You'll start the game clumsy, trying to guess at the right co-ordinates; but soon you'll forget that the mouse cursor exists at all, and just instinctively shuffle the storm en masse like the hand of Genesis shaping life out of molecules. Except that you're just making a cute picture of a butterfly. Or an elephant. Or a sliced lemon.

Coign of Vantage, like Reflexive's Music Catch, gives compelling testimony that video games and classical music make great snuggle-buddies. The theme here is from Bach, who was famous for evoking the divine spirit with his harmonies. It seems an appropriate choice for a game about wringing order from chaos and finding form in a soup of dust.

The challenge—for this is still a game we're talking about—comes from the ubiquitous timer, which starts at 30 seconds and gains a few whenever you complete a puzzle. The chunk of time gained per level gets smaller as you play, so eventually the forces of entropy will get you. The final few levels, when the bonus and your average solving time converge, are just as tense as can be—partly because your high score attempt is about to be strangled, and partly because you'll want to see more of artist Armin Prucha-Stocker's little icons. They really are quite adorable.

I don't know how much longevity the game has. It never did grip me with the slimy hand of addiction, but then, that's also kind of a relief. Again like Music Catch, or Bobblebrook's own Twizzle, the experience sparks with brief wonder and then fades to a satisfied peace. That's fine by me. In the end, Coign of Vantage is just a game where you point at a specific spot on your computer screen, based on subtle visual cues. But somewhere between seeing and pointing, your mind uncurls its new-grown wings and takes to the air.

Play Coign of Vantage

Bonus essay question! The phrase "coign of vantage" means "an advantageous position", and is probably most famous as the title of this 19th-century painting, by Dutch classical painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Why did Bobblebrook give the game this title?


This game is really cool.
However, it is fairly easy because all of the smallest pixels have to be the closest to you for it to work.


This is partly easy because the answer is ALWAYS from the top of an upside down cone that you do not view the inside of. but this is very fun!


sorry for the double post but me and Spkl said basically the same thing! lol.

The_Corruptor August 13, 2008 3:16 PM

an advantageous position - as in, the best position to be in. A very clever title, more so than most games. The point of the game is to be in the best (or most advantageous) position to view the picture. Once that is completed, which is not particularly difficult, you are tasked with that task again. Perhaps there is an addional level to this, in that all players want to be in the most advantageous position of 'top of the leaderboards' but I doubt that was going through their heads at that particular time - it's far more likely that they were just coming up with a short, memorable title that captures both the goal of the game, as well as the spirit of it.

Oh shucks, that's not in three paragraph essay format. ;)

Overall, it's fun but more casual than it first appears. It quickly changes from a game of 'figure out the mechanics' to 'move the blurry cone so that it points directly towards you'. Interesting, but not terribly memorable as a game, only as an experiment in clever mechanics.


This game can be really mesmerizing. Sure it is pretty easy, but I find that the hook is less in the difficulty and more with the overall experience.


I think it should definitely be a nominee in the "simple idea" category of the JIG game of the year award in December. I just love the idea. Simple, foolproof, soothing. Perfect.


I'm just wondering... That guy over 1.3 million points on the score list... He must have too much time on his hands :D


Great find! Though I was enjoying it much more until I figured out there was a timer that was running out (yea, I was just ignoring the time flashing right in my face). Kind of turned me off of it, though I suppose it would get boring if it were just a set of picture levels to do.


I swear one of the icons is cthulu...

Okay, maybe it's just an octopus, but it could be the cuddly cthulu plushy. I'm just saying.

(if you don't know what i'm talking about:


Way too easy to be fun for long periods of time. Good idea, but in order for it to be fun you should have to rotate it at like an angle instead of straight on.


#12 on all-time highscores my first play through. Fun game, once.


Wow, some of those pics could be Lovecraft covers. Good stuff.


I have to say, I'm really pleased to see an improvement. In the previous game music-catch, the music was horrifically boring, unimaginative and repetitive. I was fairly disappointed back then since I love the concept of simple gameplay and smooth graphics along with classical music. When I started reading, I feared clicking the link. And I have to say - I'm impressed. There are a number of things that improved:
1. The piece is based on the famous Goldberg Variations by Bach. I don't know why they didn't just use the original, but, then, it's still better then basing your music on a pop songs.
2. There's much less pretension, not only in the music (which is, I admit, the only thing I care about in most things) but the game as a whole. They wrote that they "sincerely hope he's [Bach] not rolling over in his grave", which already brings a smile. The game itself is very light-hearted, which is something that the previous game lacked.

9/10 on my scale. Just for the music.


Please don't misunderstand the review: Music Catch was not developed by Philipp and Markus of Bobblebrook.


Oh sorry, I just thought because you said "Like music catch before it". Should've checked myself. Meh. So read my comment as a comparison between them: two different ways of producing the same idea.

Patreon Crew SonicLover August 13, 2008 8:18 PM

I got 461890 points and solved... I don't know how many pictures, but it was either fifty- or sixty-something. How'd everyone else do?


After a few hints from above, namely

Treat it like a cone, and you're trying to find the very top of the cone.

I managed 83 pictures with a score that was creeping towards 700K


Overall, great concept. I'm not much a fan of Bach's, I'm sorry. Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Ravel, any of those and I'm happy. Granted I also don't expect designers to cater to my specific musical tastes...

My head's not that big.

But great concept, and I can see myself going back if I need something almost zen-like to clear my head. But I think the two things that could make this a truly addictive experience would be to introduce some sort of escalation, and some sort of award system.

Escalation could be something as simple as starting out with very small icons and working your way up to medium sized pictures. after a while you kind of almost expect it to get a little harder and it doesn't.

And as for rewards, I don't know, people just like collecting things...

Oooh... What would totally do the trick is if you could build an art gallery of those pictures you successfully completed. That would have people going back again and again just to get that one picture that eludes them.


This game would be a lot better if you had a shorter time limit. I got 51 images on my first play through, but that's partially because I got tired of playing the game. Once the countdown started ticking at me, though, I sped up since it actually began to feel like I was playing a game.


Note that this game gets ridiculously easy on slower computers, due to slowdown. The thing is, the controls don't suffer any slowdown, but the timer does. With my ancient computer, even after setting the graphics quality to "Low", one second on the in-game timer translated to about four or five seconds IRL, which means that I was able to solve images in a lot less "time".


Now i hate having a newer model computer... I had like 875,000 or something to that extent on a pretty good computer...

And for optimal bragging rights...


Somehow I got that score on a touchpad, but when I played it later on my desktop, i did worse with a mouse????????!?!?!?!?!?

I might have just been outta it or into it... Not sure but for me the touchpad worked better...

Anyone else try with a touchpad vs. a mouse?

OrigamiMarie August 14, 2008 12:20 AM


Not touchpad vs. mouse, but another experiment. I have a tablet (which of course means I use a stylus). My first game was with the pen, and didn't really count because I was working out the strategy, and of course the "oh, I'm on a countdown clock?" factor. Game 2 I played on the touchpad because I had already been wondering about it myself, and then read your comment. There I got 82. Then because I was curious, I played again with the pen. I got 81, which is pretty much the same score. I felt like I had better control on the touchpad. I suspect there are a few things that make the touchpad good for this game (ramblings got lengthy, so they are in spoiler tags).

The game field is small, so you're not going to run off the pad.

No clicking. Touchpads make for pretty good movement, but bad click integration.

The movements are a little bit finicky, especially near the end of the alignment, and I think the touchpad has superior control for this. I noticed myself using the fingertip-roll technique that I have been perfecting over the several months since I first got the computer. This is the trick where I don't actually slide my fingertip, but instead just roll it, which actually gives very good fine-control movements, without accidental slippage.

Unfortunately, I don't find that this game has a lot of replay appeal, so now I am done playing it.


yeah, got to #4 on third try.

First try was for figuring out the game, second try I aimed for 100 but got stopped at 97 :(.

I was a bit frustrated, so I tried again... 30 minutes later, I think it was enough for me.

chaos creator August 14, 2008 9:21 AM

good game. on my first try i got 65 with 500890 points. its a lot harder then it should be with a wondering mouse. wouldn't mind seeing another version of this with retro gaming sprites.
also a little tip

try to get the smallest pixels towards the front (if that makes any sense)


I wish there was a way to pause. My first two playthroughs, I scarcely got above 200k points because I kept getting distracted with other things. (Unless there is a way and I just missed it, in which case I'd feel pretty silly.)

When I sat down and decided to do nothing but play until I ran out of time, I got over a million points and ended up on the all-time high score list. Wonder how long before someone bumps me off?

A few of the pictures seem to give me a harder time, particularly the ones with few pixels or at strange angles. The dragonfly is especially annoying.

Definitely a nice, relaxing game, though I don't really feel compelled to replay it anytime soon now that I accomplished my goal of getting a high score. It's pretty easy, but that's fine. And the music's very nice. I think Bach was a great choice for this sort of game.


Oh, I forgot to add that I also found that using a touchpad wasn't nearly so much of a disadvantage for this game as it is for a lot of other games with mouse-based controls.


Wow. If I had played this game a week or so ago before I cleaned all the dust out of my mouse, I would have a mouse-sized hole in my monitor right now.

Overall, great game. Not much replay value besides the highscore list, though, which is okay since I enjoyed the experience. I got 83 pictures and 660k or something around there.


Nice little toy. Doesn't feel much like a game, though, because once you get the hang of it that very long countdown never really runs down. But it's very relaxing and fun.


That's reasonable.

1st try: 293600 something
2nd try: 862020!

A great improvement, I must say.


Wow... Lovely game! great fun and quite beautiful. Got to image 32 and 5 of those were in the last 3 seconds!!! 199070 points.

Good tip to anyone is try to find the pixels that seem smaller and further away and then move to them. That should give a general idea of where the mouse needs to be.


Lol sorry for double post.

@ninjaz a mouse is too jumpy and reacts too fast. I can use my touchpad better than I can a mouse because I'm so used to it. I can imagine a stylus being VERY useful...

Second time around (using above technique) my score jumped to 617320 with 79 pics completed


I'm glad I've helped some people... Lol...


This reminds me very much of a game/task which appeared, I think in one of the episodes of start trek. Where students of an elite federation academy (I think one of them included son of Enterprise doctor Beverly Crusher) have to solve a 3d puzzle where the screen looks filled with scattered pixels which then suddenly zap into place...

Anybody know what I am talking about??


ok, after some more investigations, the episode is from star trek - The Next Generation. Episode 19 - "Coming of Age".

I think there is a blurred screenshot of the "task" in the middle of the first image on this page:


The image looks dull though. I recall the "gameplay" looking much cooler.

Couldn't find a video though...


Ok, silly question....but how do you get the game to start and not just sit at the very first screen?

rabidchild1 April 13, 2009 1:32 AM

please add the "pixelart" tag to this game- I was thinking about it and couldn't find it for the longest time...


I adore the music. So well suited to the game. Also, I discovered that there are often "Hotspots" where, if you find one image, the next is very close to that exact spot on the screen. It can continue for quite a few pictures. Just out of curiosity, what are people's favourite images? Mine, of the few I have completed, is the purple cow.


Spkl, I was having fun until you spoiled it for me with the "smallest pixels have to be the closest" comment. Thanks a lot, Buzz Killington :P

TheMusicGirl July 24, 2010 4:19 PM

A beautiful little concept combined with the music. Very relaxing.


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