Category Archives: Puzzlers

The most interesting, unusual or otherwise noteworthy games in the underappreciated puzzle game genre.

Puzzler Essentials: Lumines

There’s been an unwritten rule ever since the days of the Game Boy that every major new handheld system must launch with at least one awesome puzzle game.

Sony’s PlayStation Portable was no exception, launching with the wonderful Lumines (pronounced “luminous”, not “loo-mines”, as I’ve heard some people call it), a game that combined the familiar style of falling-block puzzling with the synaesthetic blend of light and sound patterns designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi had used to such great effect in his renowned Dreamcast title Rez, and which he would later use once again in the PSP versions of Gunpey and Every Extend Extra.

Lumines isn’t a complex game in mechanical terms. But it is most definitely not a quick-hit throwaway experience, either; on the contrary, when you sit down for a game of Lumines, expect to be staring glassy-eyed at your PSP for at least half an hour before you’ll be able to tear yourself away.

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Shmuzzler Essentials: Every Extend Extra

Every Extend Extra is a game that defies easy description. Is it a shoot ’em up? Is it a puzzle game? Yes. And no. And… uh…

For those familiar with the work of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment, it is somewhat par for the course in that it is developed around the concept of “synaesthesia” — the subconscious connections that some people make between different sensory inputs, in this case sound, visuals and “touch” of sorts through gameplay.

But for everyone else, it’s an initially baffling experience that, before long, becomes utterly compelling and fiendishly addictive.

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Puzzler Essentials: Gunpey

There’s something about handheld systems that just makes puzzle games feel right.

The PlayStation Portable was no stranger to games of this type, of course, what with the excellent Lumines being a launch title for the system and a wide variety of other brainteasers making solid appearances on the platform over the subsequent years.

One of the most interesting and unusual titles on the platform is 2006’s Gunpey, actually the latest installment in a series that got its start on the Japan-only WonderSwan system.

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Puzzler Essentials: Puchi Carat

I’ve always had a soft spot for block-breakers, ever since Arkanoid on the Atari 8-bit, and Puchi Carat makes me happy in all the right ways.

Combining elements of traditional classic block-breakers with mechanics from puzzle games such as the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series, it’s an enormously addictive, highly unusual game that is simultaneously unique and absolutely representative of the time in which it came out.

In short, if you like adorable late ’90s anime style characters, coloured things going “pop” and gameplay that is as much about skill as it is about intelligence, Puchi Carat is definitely a game that you should check out.

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Puzzler Essentials: Magical Drop III

Magical Drop III, first released in 1997, is widely regarded as the best installment in Data East’s series of frantic puzzlers.

The series as a whole is noteworthy in that it provides a distinctly more fast-paced take on what is typically regarded as a relatively sedate genre, but Magical Drop III took the core mechanics established in its early incarnations, polished them to a fine sheen and created one of the most addictive puzzle games of all time… not to mention the origin of the “Fairy Bounce” meme.

Magical Drop III got released on all manner of platforms, but today we’re primarily concerned with the European PlayStation release, which includes a port of the Saturn version, itself somewhat rebalanced from the arcade and Neo Geo versions, as well as a port of Magical Drop Plus 1!, an enhanced version of the first game in the series that was originally released in the West as Chain Reaction.

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Puzzler Essentials: Cleopatra Fortune

Cleopatra Fortune is an arcade game from 1997, developed as a collaborative effort between Taito and Natsume.

It’s a falling block puzzle of the type that was fashionable throughout the 16- and 32-bit eras in the mid-to-late ’90s. But despite having a touch of Tetris about some of its mechanics, it’s an altogether unique experience. And, moreover, unlike some of the more well-known names in the puzzle genre, particularly in recent years, it’s not one that’s been endlessly cloned, reskinned and recycled.

It is, however, brilliant.

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Puzzler Essentials: Zoo Puzzle

You’ve almost certainly played Zoo Keeper at one point or another over the years.

Originally developed as a Web-based game by Tokyo-based animation studio Robot Communications, Zoo Keeper was subsequently ported by developer-publisher Success to a variety of platforms over the years, including Nintendo DS, 3DS, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Android and PlayStation 2.

The latter of these, inexplicably rebranded to the even more generic-sounding Zoo Puzzle (or, more accurately, the questionably punctuated Zoo “Puzzle”) in Europe by publisher 505 GameStreet, is the one we’re primarily concerned with today.

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