Category Archives: Puzzlers

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

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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Puzzler Essentials: Detonator

You can make games about pretty much anything.

Demolishing buildings, for example, is a theme that we’ve seen a few times over the years, most notably in Midway’s classic arcade game Rampage, though you might not think this inherently destructive activity is the best fit for the rather cerebral puzzle game genre.

You would, however, be wrong, as Kadokawa Shoten’s PlayStation 2 puzzler Detonator aptly demonstrates.

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Puzzler Essentials: Hell Girls

We’re enjoying a bit of a puzzle game renaissance at the moment.

While we’re not quite at the same level as we were in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit eras, where puzzle games would happily share retail shelf space with 100+ hour RPG epics (Puyo Puyo Tetris aside), we are at least starting to see more and more puzzle games that aren’t free-to-play mobile titles primarily designed to repeatedly part you from your cash rather than providing a well-balanced, fun experience.

One interesting game that may well have passed you by owing to its low price and seemingly low production values is Hell Girls from Taiwanese circle SakuraGame. And you should most definitely give it a look!

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Puzzler Essentials: Baku Baku Animal

Today’s puzzle game of choice is one that there is, unfortunately, no real easy way to get hold of legally any more, but it holds extremely fond memories for me regardless.

The game in question is Sega’s Baku Baku Animal, which I first came into contact with back in 1997 when I was doing my Year 10 work experience at PC Zone magazine in London. This was an era when Sega was just starting to experiment with PC ports of its popular arcade games, with varying results.

Baku Baku Animal was one of this initial batch and, like the CD-ROM version of Puzzle Bobble (featuring full Redbook audio!), which had also come into the office around the same time, managed to bring much of the office to a standstill for quite a while, even dragging the most hardcore Quake-heads away from their daily deathmatches for a while.

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