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Worth Playing vol. 3: Puzzle Game Madness

07 Feb

I did it for one of my favorite genres (the fighter) and I’ve got to do it for another genre close to my heart, the puzzle game. Whether you’re connecting colored gems, filling in gaps, solving brain teaser, or shooting shiny balls at other shiny balls, the puzzle game is a staple to the video game community that isn’t going anywhere. And with so many excellent games to sink your teeth into it can be hard to determine which games offer the best challenge, the most addictive gameplay, and the most satisfaction upon completion. Vol 3 of Worth Playing is here, so let’s get this underway.


Game: Mercury
Genre: Physics Puzzler
System:
PSP, Wii, PS3
Price: $7 (Wii – As Mercury Meltdown), $5 (PSP – As Archer Maclean’s Mercury), $5 (PS3 – As Mercury Hg)I wasn’t exposed to this series until it’s latest release, Mercury Hg for the PS3. What I was missing was a very solid and unique puzzle game. You guide a glob of mercury through a variety of mazes by tilting the maze itself to slide the liquid metal accordingly. For a simple concept this works exceedingly well: playing each level is fun and very addictive. It makes you want to play the same level again and again just to get all the goals and the highest score. Add in some slick music and truly challenging objectives and you’ve got a surefire winner.

Why you should play it
– A unique spin on the physics puzzler
– The perfect blend of challenge and fun
– The game is very cheap; only a few bucks and it’s yours

Game: Intelligent Qube
Genre: 3D Puzzler
System: PS1
Price:  ~$35If you’re looking for something different (and you’ve got a pretty penny sitting in your pocket), then do yourself a favor and check out Intelligent Qube. You play on a small grid as cubes tumble and roll,  pushing you closer to the edge of the stage.You must place markers on the ground to eliminate colored cubes from the tumbling blocks before you either run out of room or get crushed by the cubes. It sort of sounds complicated, but once you play it things will seem simple. Maybe to keep you coming back or to simply mock your failure, the game gives you an IQ score at the game over screen, enticing you to come back and play to get a higher score. This one is hard to find, but it’s worth playing if you can get your hands on it.

Why you should play it
Really no other game like it that I can recall
– Is very simple game that will keep your attention for awhile
– Puts on the pressure: the generic art style and lack of much sound places emphasis on puzzles

Game: Bejeweled 2
Genre: Gem Matching Puzzler
System: PC, iOS, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Price: $10 (PC), $4 (iOS), $10 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)It should go without saying that PopCap’s Bejeweled 2 is a fantastic game, but I put it on this list because a lot of gamers might have written it off as a casual game only. Good ol’ gem matching doesn’t get any better than this; extremely easy to play, visceral graphics and sound, and very addictive gameplay. Combine all that with the game’s availability on nearly every system and portable device imaginable and it’s hard to deny Bejeweled 2’s staying power. I’ve yet to play Bejeweled 3but I’ve heard things about that one too.

Why you should play it
– Appeals to all types of gamers; casual, hardcore, and everything in between
– Plenty of game modes to keep you challenged and busy
– Damn near impossible to use a mobile device and NOT see the game available

Game: Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
Genre: Gem Matching RPG Puzzler
System: DS, PSP, PC, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, iOS
Price: $7 (DS), $20 (Wii), $10 (PSP, PS3, Xbox 360)Puzzle Quest was the game behind the, what I am going to call, RPG Puzzle game boom. This game put together the unlikely genres of RPG and gem matching, interweaving a rather deep story with short puzzler gameplay. Gain experience, level up, deal damage to your foes, match gems, cast spells!… what DOESN’T this game have?Though there is a story here it isn’t too compelling and can pretty much be ignored, and the difficulty of your enemies scales incredibly high at the end of the game. Expect massive grinding if you’re looking to see the ending of this one.

Why you should play it
– Combines RPG elements with gem matching puzzles
– Two forms of addictive gameplay: leveling up and earning more powerful spells as well as fun gameplay
– It’s portable! Playing the game on the go or between classes/on break is awesome

Game: Swords & Poker
Genre: Cards based Puzzler
System: iOS
Price:$3Do you have an iPhone? Do you enjoy Poker? Do you enjoy puzzle games? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then you NEED to see Swords & Poker. Your goal is to defeat your opponent by placing cards in a grid to create a poker hand which in turn deals damage to your opponent. Better hands like 4-of-a-kinds and a Royal Flush deal more damage than simple pairs. RPG elements are thrown in as well. You level up and gain more Hit Points as well as special items and skills which let you alter the game field, steal your opponents cards, or deal direct damage. The game is incredibly unique and has my highest recommendation of all the games on this list for you to play right now.

Why you should play it
Very unique premise (and I hear the sequel is even better than this)
– Perfect for bite-sized play sessions if you can’t devote a lot of time
– Successfully combines poker and puzzles

Game: Puyo Pop (Puyo Puyo in Japan)
Genre: Gem Matching Puzzler
System: Game Boy Advance, Gamecube, DS
Price: $12 (GBA), $20 (GC), $25 (DS)From what I can remember, this game was/is more popular in Japan. Fortunately a few versions of the game have come stateside and we’re all the better for it. Feeding off the same general idea as Dr. Mario, Puyo Pop has you matching similarly colored goo balls (Puyos, I presume) to clear a grid in a certain time. Chaining together combos and cascading Puyos is how you rack up the biggest score. Some stages have you just placing one or two Puyos to clear an entire puzzle, giving the game a heavier emphasis on strategy. I knew some people that swore by this game, but I never really thought it was anything extraordinary. Still though, very fun game that’s worth a look.

Why you should play it
A fun spin on a classic formula
– Pretty visuals and cute art style
– Sometimes the other puzzle games are too mainstream

Game: Bust-A-Move
Genre: Color Matching Puzzler
System: Frickin’ everything
Price: ~$10 (3DS – Bust-A-Move Universe), $6 (PS2/N64 – Bust-A-Move 2), many more…This, aside from Tetris, is THE game that got me hooked on the puzzle genre. The concept is simple: shoot colored balls at other balls to match three or more and make them pop off the screen. But things aren’t so easy: Bouncing balls off walls, precise aiming skills, and a strict move limit per level ensure each shot is an important one. I also remember the second game (Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition to be exact) having an infectious soundtrack and main theme, which is a killer combination with a puzzle game (like Tetris and it’s theme). Of all the games listed here, this is my pick for the funnest puzzler.

Why you should play it
Expertly designed puzzles require strategy to overcome
– Great competitive multiplayer
– Soundtrack is memorable, at least for the second game

Game: Professor Layton series
Genre: Brain puzzles
System: DS
Price: $20 (Curious Village), $30 (Last Spectre)I’ve already spoken nothing but praise for the Professor Layton series. Brain teasers aren’t that new to the video game field, coming into popularity with the advent of Brain Age and the Nintendo DS, but it was the Professor Layton series that really got me into the genre. Featuring over 150 brain teasers, an intriguing mystery to solve, and lovable characters, these games are a complete package. There has yet to be a competitor or imitator for this series, and Nintendo has a fantastic franchise in its hands with this one. Layton and Luke are on top of their game and on top of the puzzle genre.

Why you should play it
– Strong story and characters push the game forward – fun puzzles help out, too
– Very addictive gameplay thanks to a range of simple and challenging puzzles
– Satisfaction from completing a difficult brainteaser is euphoric

Game: Columns
Genre: Gem Matching Puzzler
System: Sega Genesis, PS2, PSP, DreamCast
Price: $2 (Genesis), $7 (PS2/PSP – Sega Genesis Collection)I was fortunate to have two older brothers growing up, and one of them had a Sega Genesis, and the other had a Super Nintendo. If I wasn’t performing fatalities in Mortal Kombat II or slam dunking from half court in NBA Jam T.E., I was playing Columns on the Sega Genesis. Though it may seem like any other gem matching game at first sight, Columns has a lot more to offer upon further inspection. Blocks of three different colored gems fall from the top of the screen. You can shift these blocks around in any order, but they must always remain vertical (so unlike Tetriswhere you can rotate blocks on their sides). Instantly lining up three gems becomes a challenge as you must now work vertically, horizontally, and diagonally! On top of that the game gets insanely fast rather quickly, so only the truly skilled got to the high score leaderboards. I was never there…

Why you should play it
– The catchy melodies and sounds add to the games charm greatly
– Hard and fast gameplay will give your brain a workout
– Frantic multiplayer matches may lead to broken friendships

Game: Meteos
Genre: Block Matching Puzzler
System: DS, Xbox 360
Price: $8 (DS), $10 (Xbox 360)Meteos is an old game for the Nintendo DS, and it’s still actually one of the best puzzle game out there. Unfortunately no one really played much of it, and so we haven’t heard anything from the game since (sans a little affair with a Disney influenced sequel). Meteos uses the DS’ unique touch controls to shift around colored blocks and send them into outer space. The game looks like a matching puzzler but really isn’t that at all: instead you’ll be pushing blocks up to the top screen, getting the corresponding elements you need to beat the level, and playing through a galaxy whose entire existence is apparently to play puzzle games. If you’re looking for something truly unique (as if there’s not enough of that on the list), then you have to give Meteos a look.

Why you should play it
– All touch screen controlled
– Simple to play, hard to master
– One of the freshest spins on a genre classic

Laters,
Jsick

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4 responses to “Worth Playing vol. 3: Puzzle Game Madness

  1. Eric

    02/18/2012 at 2:34 pm

    Awesome post! I haven’t played a lot of these, but I LOVE Puzzle Quest (and Professor Layton, of course). I actually got Meteos from Goozex a few weeks ago but haven’t tried it yet.

    Right now my puzzle addiction comes from Lumines. It took me seven years to play it, but damn if it isn’t addictive! I can’t get enough of it now. Have you played that?

     
    • jsicktheslick

      02/18/2012 at 9:52 pm

      You know, I did play it and I wasn’t too impressed with it. The game was fine and all, I just didn’t like it that much. My friend swore by that game though, so perhaps I just didn’t give it a good enough chance.

       
      • Eric

        02/19/2012 at 1:25 pm

        Yeah, I felt the same way at first, actually. I didn’t get what the big deal was, but I kept playing and got hooked once I started getting better at the game. Now I keep pushing myself to get higher scores and unlock more skins. Can’t wait to try out the sequels.

         

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