Although the abstract nature of the puzzle game genre makes it theoretically possible to make a game out of pretty much anything, we tend to see a lot of the same sort of thing.
In particular, over the years, we’ve seen a lot of “match dropping things so that their colours match”, “swap things around to make lines of three like-coloured doohickies” and “shoot bubbles at precarious arrangements to make groups of three like-coloured blobs”. As such, it’s always rather pleasing to come across a game that does something a little different from one of these common conventions favoured by the most popular titles in the genre.
Starsweep, a game that originated in Japanese arcades and was subsequently ported to PlayStation and Game Boy, is just the ticket to refresh the jaded puzzle fan.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Starsweep
HuniePop from Ryan Koons’ studio HuniePot was partly developed as a sort of “protest” game: an attempt to fight back against the growing trend of political correctness that was starting to take root in the games industry.
There was clearly demand for such a game, even back in late 2013; a successful Kickstarter campaign allowed those who were similarly frustrated with the situation to put their money where their mouth was and show their support for the kind of thing they wanted to see more of: something lewd, crude and rude — and unashamed of being any of those things.
The remarkable thing about HuniePop was that it ended up being a damn good game as well as a resounding middle finger to the “everything is problematic” crowd. Not only that, it also demonstrated that independent Western developers were more than capable of putting interesting new twists on Japanese-style aesthetics by combining anime-style artwork with a hilariously abrasive and distinctively modern, American script.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: HuniePop
With the rise in free-to-play mobile games, the humble standalone puzzle game has become something of a rarity.
That’s not to say that they don’t exist at all any more, however, and, more to the point, puzzle games as a genre generally age a whole lot better than other types of game due to their abstract mechanics and non-reliance on realistic graphics.
With that in mind, then, let’s kick off a regular look at puzzle games from both yesterday and today to run alongside the other Essentials columns for Wii U games and shoot ’em ups.
First up for examination is a modern title from Grisaia developer Frontwing, loosely based on their unlocalised Pure Girl and Innocent Girl visual novels: Purino Party.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party
Pikmin is one of Nintendo’s series that often gets forgotten about, but it’s a real gem — and its Wii U installment is no exception.
Often (arguably) erroneously decribed as a “real time strategy” game, the games are actually more akin to puzzle adventures, in which you explore a world and figure out the best ways to proceed and defeat the enemies in front of you. In the grand tradition of games that feature sprawling, huge maps, too, there are plenty of shortcuts to unlock and lots of revisiting earlier areas with new abilities to find hidden secrets.
And the whole thing is tied together with a delightfully cute aesthetic that fits the tone of the experience perfectly.
Continue reading Wii U Essentials: Pikmin 3
You have to respect a game that is up-front about what it is; one that says to you “we both know why you’re here.”
Japanese developers and localisers — particularly in the visual novel sector, and especially when it comes to nukige, or games where the main point is sexual content rather than narrative — are good at this sort of frank honesty; browsing, for example, MangaGamer’s (emphatically not safe for work) front page reveals titles such as Boob Wars: Big Breasts vs Flat Chests, Busty Maid: Creampie Heaven and the gloriously self-aware Eroge: Sex and Games Makes Sexy Games.
Devleoper-publisher Zoo Corporation is no stranger to this practice, either, with its various labels Norn, Cybele, Miel and Yumesta each putting out a variety of games with fairly self-explanatory titles. Prior to 2015, the only Zoo title we’d seen in the West was 1994 puzzler BreakThru! — which Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov had his name attached to despite having very little to do with — but all that changed with the release of Mahjong Pretty Girls Battle in January of that year.
A new series was born, with Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire being its latest installment. And, you know, it’s pretty good, particularly considering its ludicrously cheap price at the time of writing.
Continue reading Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire: Exactly What it Sounds Like