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Puz: JigJag [by Gavin Buttimore]

Game Review: Jig Jag
Release: Oct 2003
Genre: Puzzle
System Requirements: Pentium 300, 64MB RAM, Win95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2K, XP
Price: US $19.95
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JigJag is a game that reaches a level that all puzzle games try to reach.  From the nearly perfect interface to the bright colorful and friendly graphics, to the wonderfully joyful music and addicting game play, this game provides what puzzle fans crave.  In fact it provides several different types of game play that should each appeal to puzzle fans and will likely delight some "non" puzzle fans as well.

The game play is built around pictures.  As a player you have a board in front of you that works much like the old slider puzzles that you may have played as a child.  You need to move the picture pieces around until they connect together to form a picture.  Unlike the puzzles you played as a child, these pictures are not all square in their shape.  The different pictures come in shapes that range through basically all the shapes you are familiar with from the game Tetris.  However, in this case, you aren't moving those blocks around, but instead, trying to move the individual picture piece blocs together to form an entire picture.  Depending on the game style that you play, you may or may not have all the picture blocks to form any one picture on the screen at any one time. 

There are 3 modes of play, Strategy, Puzzle, and Arcade.  In the Strategy mode, perhaps the most original of the three, you receive a new picture piece block every time you make three moves on the playing board.  This leads to you needing to be very judicious in your moves.  You can move one piece and have it push other pieces out of the way in the process, while only being counted for moving the piece that you are directly clicking on.  The Strategy game is built for those with patience who like to plan out a plan of attack.

The Puzzle mode is a bit more grizzly.  In this mode of play, you typically have a much smaller playing field.  You can make as many moves as you want, but you can score a "Gold Star" on the levels by solving the puzzles in less moves.  The way this mode works, is that the playing field is filled with all the picture pieces that you will receive.  There is a way to move the pieces carefully around so that each of the picture puzzles can be completed, but it requires making all the moves in the right order.

The last mode of game play is the one I spent the most time on.  It is the Arcade mode.  In this mode, a new piece appears on the board every 3 seconds.  The goal is to move the pieces around so that you can complete the pictures on the board instead of filling the board with incomplete pieces.  As is also the case in Strategy mode, as you connect pictures pieces, you actually create more obstacles on the board for yourself.  The semi-completed pictures have to be worked around as you try to connect other pictures pieces together.  It is only when you completely finish a picture that it disappears, giving you more space to work with.  In addition, there are combos that can be scored by completing multiple pictures in a short time.  This leads to the player dangerously playing with fate by leaving multiple pictures nearly completed in such a manner than they can all be completed in a very short time in very few moves, thus scoring big points.

There is a wide variety of pictures to go with the many different types of game play that will keep players entertained for some time, and more pictures are available on the website, where the developers have pledged their desire to make the game as good as it possibly can be.  Those who play the game will undoubtedly feel that the developer is keeping their end of the deal.

Graphics: 8
The graphics are quite clear and clean and are enjoyable to look at.  The variety of graphics and ability to download even more images online is certainly appreciated.  From the different pictures of sports, to art, to travel and space, and more, the images are fun to look at and will keep you playing to catch a glimpse of another new pic.  Each of the menus and other graphics are all well-done high quality pics that is above the quality of most games of this type.  The different ways that the pictures disappeared from the screen was also interesting and helped continue the polished look of the game.  Another great graphics trick are the animated buttons that add to the light-hearted fun look of the game.

Sound: 9
I love the menu screen soundtrack with its "The Sims®" sound is very nice and put me at ease every time I flipped the game on.  The sound effects are nice throughout, with the distinctive "I Dream of Jeannie" jingle playing at various times.  I single out that sound as I think it helps to characterize the light-hearted nature of the sounds.  They do a lot to add to the game and set the player at ease, which is often hard to do when things start getting stressful in a puzzle game.

Game play: 8
This game is really easy to pick up and play.  Since there are really 3 different games in this one game, each has its own game play, but how hard is moving picture blocks?  The game is very simple to control, with plenty of help throughout.  My only real complaint here is the level of difficulty.  On both normal and difficult, the difficulty curve is very steep, seemingly very gradual, and then jumping to a much more difficult level of difficulty.  On the difficult levels you'll want to stay with images you are used to seeing as a new image can be death as you move onto harder levels.

Options: 9
Everything you could want is included in the options.  Well, ok, that isn't really true, but the span is certainly generous.  Scores can be uploaded after each level to an online high score list.  Though I would have appreciate the ability to upload my entire high score list instead of just my last game would certainly have been appreciated.  There is also a puzzle editor that lets you create your own puzzles and email them to friends and family.  Being able to include your own pictures would have been nice, though with the multiple shape types that the puzzles need, it seems it might have been more trouble than the normal person would have gone through in any case.

Concept: 10
I believe this is a very original game.  It incorporates some ideas from other games, such as the puzzle slider types games, but varies highly from those types, enough so that I gave it full points for being original.

Fun: 8
Each of the different modes of JigJag had various amounts of fun attached to them for me.  I don't often like spending long periods of times trying to figure out how to align each peace of a puzzle perfectly to make things work.  There have been a few games, such as Aargon that convinced me to take the time, but JigJag did not.  However, the Arcade mode definitely maintained my interest for a long period of time.  JigJag is the type of game that when played, will immediately draw a crowd of on-lookers eager to try their hand at playing.

Overall: 8
This is a great game that Puzzle players will definitely enjoy.  It is nearly cliché to state that any specific puzzle game is a game that will appeal to non-puzzle fans, so I wanted to avoid saying that, even though I believe it to be true in the case of this game.  JigJag is a game that quickly will pull you in and will keep you playing for long periods of time as you try to make the perfect combo and work your way up the high score list. 

With three completely different modes of play and a nearly perfect presentation, JigJag is a wonderfully done puzzle game that should appeal to gamers everywhere.
Added: October 28th 2003
Reviewer: Russell Carroll
Related Link: JigJag Website
Hits: 6984
Language: english


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