Puzzlings is a breath of happiness

Posted: July 15, 2009 in Arcade, Puzzle

Just another match-3 game…

This would not be a phrase that applies to Puzzlings. The game has a unique personality all its own, as unique as the level of customization of your little Puzzling. Match-3 games are a dime a dozen, but I have to hand it to devs who seem to continuously come up with some creative twists to the genre. To say that Puzzlings is creative is somewhat of an understatement. Puzzling combines clothing and fashion accessories and the hunt for talisman pieces into a match-3 game. It’s an exotic mix that strangely works very well thanks to the polished handiwork of the devs at Bight Games.

The game takes place in the land of Wardrobia, and involves a people called the Puzzlings. Think of Puzzlings as relatives to the Pillsbury Dough Boy clan. These guys have been out in the sun a little longer, and they also walk around with no clothes. One day, a Puzzling whom you get to name decides he (or she) wants to go on a journey that takes it through 8 different worlds and 40 stages looking for talisman.

The journey takes you through some vibrantly colored scenes where you get to get to dress your Puzzling and watch him walk on his way. As you complete puzzles, clothing and accessories are earned which you can either wear right away or store for safe keeping in your closet. One thing that really stands out is a game screen that represents your Puzzling’s orange house. This has all sorts of neat things in there including the closet where you can rotate your Puzzling around during dress time, a computer for checking game stats, and a camera button where pictures can be taken of your Puzzling in its new duds. For those who are too manly, I wouldn’t let the cuteness factor prevent you from experiencing the game.

The puzzle involves matching same colored blocks. One of the strong points of Puzzlings is the touch controls which are extremely responsive. Unlike a traditional match-3, you can rotate and shift blocks around to create matches, combo matches and mega chains. What this means is that you can also drag a series of blocks by creating a square around them with your fingers. From there, they will automatically rotate 90 degrees until you tap to stop it. This becomes more important for when talisman pieces start appearing because of the need to shift and rotate quickly in order to assemble a complete talisman with four wedge pieces before time runs out.

Within each world, there are 3 types of games—Arcade, Puzzle House, and Arcade Challenge. In Arcade, a combometer appears at the top of the screen which is more or less a timer. In order for those special talisman pieces to appear, matches must be made quickly to fill up the combometer. Once the combometer is filled and the pieces appear, the combometer starts ticking down. Pieces must be assembled into a complete talisman before the combometer is empty, or your little Puzzling will need to walk this mile again. To clear an Arcade stage, two talisman objects must be assembled.

After completing a certain number of Arcade games within a province, Puzzle House is unlocked. This is more of a mini-puzzle where the objective is to match and remove all the pieces in a game screen in as few moves as possible. Based on the number of moves, a gold, silver or bronze medal is earned as well as new clothing and accessories.

Arcade Challenge is similar to Arcade except the objective is to complete 5 talisman objects instead of just 2.

In all these puzzles, speed bonuses are awarded based on how quickly puzzles are completed and of course, you’ll get a random clothing or accessory item. The best part of this is you can dress your Puzzling right away. It can be as darling or as hideous as you want because some of these items include body parts and underwear. Remember, you can always take snapshots of your little dude or dudette, and thankfully, you can always go back to your closet and customize it if it doesn’t turn out the way you want…too bad this game doesn’t have plastic surgery. Now, that would be something.

The artwork and quirky soundtrack should perk you up even if you’re not into dressing up your Puzzling. The game blocks are no different with each imprinted with little symbols depending on the level and world. The first three worlds are relatively simple, and you literally have a wardrobe full of new threads before you know it. In fact, the game becomes more challenging later with the introduction of long and square blocks, which are harder to remove and rotate as well as a faster moving combometer. While it doesn’t have any power ups, the game is nicely balanced in how it levels up in difficulty although I wished it started sooner and there were other types of blocks (e.g. immovable, frozen, multiple matches).

In each world, a province board is available showing all the items that can be unlocked. You’ll want to get as much as you can, but there’s no obligation. Because of the way the game is set up, you may end up going back to a previous world to complete a puzzle if you choose to for additional items. This is especially true of the Puzzle House which often is often unlocked by completing stages in the next world. It’s a creative way of sending you back to a previous world to complete other stages you may have previously bypassed. The gameplay is smooth and offers a lighthearted feel to it designed to be challenging but not stressful.

As Puzzlings has a cuteness factor to it that really builds on the charm and personality of this little world known as Wardrobia. The animation and creativity is obvious and shine through in every aspect of the game. I hope additional levels and challenges are in the works because this polished game can only get better.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (the artwork and presentation are extremely well done and different from what you would traditionally see; recommended for puzzlers, fans of Pillsbury Dough Boy-type characters and fashionistas)

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