Puzzle Arcade

 

The idea seems exciting: dozens of puzzles in one place, and no risk of pieces getting lost or damaged. But in spite of the convenience, Puzzle Arcade's design flaws are so pervasive that the satisfaction of completing a big puzzle isn't enough to make up for the annoyance of playing. In classic mode, Puzzle Arcade attempts to replicate the experience of assembling a puzzle freshly dumped out of a box. Play as a beginner, and the pieces start out angled correctly. But when you up the difficulty, it becomes clear that the creators confused "challenging" with "tedious." It's easy to grab and rotate pieces to try different positions, which is one of Puzzle Arcade's primary strengths. But some pieces are face-down, not because they're supposed to be assembled blind, but just to suck up time as you flip them over. The game has only one background tune, which isn't great to begin with, and it all but demands muting after you've been working on one puzzle for more than 30 minutes.

Puzzle Arcade also lacks texturing for depth, so when pieces are piled atop each other, you have to fish around to separate them. That issue is acute in turbo mode, where pieces are lined up neatly on the side, and you assemble the puzzle on top of the image. Expect to do a lot of squinting while figuring out where you've already placed pieces.

To the degree Puzzle Arcade has a saving grace, it's in the challenge puzzles. In one particularly novel version, you start assembling a board with only some pieces available, and get more pieces as rewards along the way. In another, pieces keep flipping face-down, creating a sort of jigsaw game of Concentration. But these modes are underused, with only one image available for each, and no skill-level variation.

Beyond the game: Players can take pictures using the Xbox Live Vision Camera to create their own puzzles.

Worth playing for: Jigsaw junkies who lack table space to put together a boxed puzzle.

Frustration sets in when: You fail a timed challenge because you didn't line up pieces precisely enough for the game to recognize that they fit together.

Final judgment: This puzzle is missing way too many pieces.

Filed Under: Games

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