Puzzle Game of the Year (Posted Dec 14, 2003)

Puzzle

If there is one thing that Indie gaming does better than anyone else, it is the puzzle genre.  This years finalists are no different, as they represent a great group of puzzle games.  The finalists were all so good that this category ended up being the closest rated in the end, with the number 1 and number 4 game being separated by just .75 in their score.  You certainly could not go wrong with any of the games listed below.

 

5th Place  

JigJag [by Gavin Buttimore]  

Price: $19.95

Our Review

System Requirements: Pentium 300, 64MB RAM, Win95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2K, XP

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 requires quick reactions as you attempt to slide pictures together on the screen from the different pieces that are available.  Those searching for intense play that will leave them sweating as they try and keep up will certainly enjoy this puzzle game.

Score:  4.5



4th Place

Triptych [by Chronic Logic]

Price: $14.95

Our Review

System Requirements: Pentium II 466mhz, 32MB RAM, Windows or Linux

Chronic Logic is probably best known for their bridge building games Pontifex and Bridge Construction Set, which use complex physics to determine if a player designed bridge will collapse or be successful. Now the developers have used their knack for physics effects and applied it to a Tetris-styled game.

This game goes places that we hope all puzzle games will go in the future.  The real fun in the game is controlling the pieces, while attempting to deal with the physics.  When a piece drops in this game, it really falls.  You can increase the velocity and watch the pieces smash into each other, trying to get them to line up and create sets.  Definitely a game that everyone, especially puzzle game haters, should play as it sets a new standard for puzzle games.

Score:  3.0



3rd Place

Train Tracking [by Demonstar]

Price: UK £10

Our Review

System Requirements:
PII300+, 32Mb, 16Mb Video Card, DirectX 7, 800x600 Full screen

In Train Tracking the majority of the screen is occupied by an overhead view of the station and on the right hand side is a list of the serial numbers of specific trains you are trying to “spot”. When trains roll through the station you read the serial numbers printed on them and if they are on your list you click the corresponding button.

While the concept doesn't sound incredibly exciting, the game is extremely enjoyable to play.  That really shouldn't be too amazing as Tetris wasn't exactly the most in-depth concept either.  This game will put your eyes and quick reactions to the test as the trains start moving through quickly, many of them with un-marked cars.  Those looking for a puzzle game that is completely different should give this one a shot.

Score:  2.75


2ND Place

Zen Puzzle Garden [by Lexaloffle]

Price: $19.95

Review Coming!

System Requirements: 133MHz CPU, 16Megs RAM, Win95 or later, DirectX 3

Zen Puzzle Garden is another example of a great game that presents an original thought in a puzzle game. 

Instead of moving bricks, in this game you move the sand.  Your character simply enters the sand where you say, and he will keep walking in that same direction until he either runs into an object in the sand, or runs into a spot where he has already been through the sand.  In both places cases, you need to turn and find a way to keep moving to one of the 4 sides of the sand rectangle. 

As the character moves through the sand he takes a rake and rakes through the sand creating sand designs.  The point of the game is to rake through all the sand and end up outside the rectangle.  This game is fairly calming, as a "Zen" game ought to be.  It also is fun to play the earlier levels again and again just to see the patterns in the sand that you can create.

Score:  2.5


1st Place

Dungeon Scroll [by RT Soft]

Price: $8.00

Review Coming!

System Requirements: DirectX 7.0

Just squeaking out the victory in the Puzzle category is Dungeon Scroll.  This game takes two great concepts and puts them together.  This is a puzzle/RPG game.

In the game, you are given letters and you need to spell words with them.  So you could call the basis somewhat scrabble like.  However, there is something else going on.  The game throws monsters at you!

Each word you enter in is counted as a spell.  When you enter the spell, it causes damage to the monster that is fighting you.  Words that are longer do more damage than words that are shorter.  For example, a 3 letter word does 3 points of damage to the Spider, but a 4 letter word does 6 points of damage. 

After killing the monster, you collect the treasure that the monster had.  This treasure usually consists of bonus letters.  The bonus letters will either increase the power of your attack by doubling the hp it takes off or adding a +10 damage bonus, or increase the number of letters that you have available to you.  There are two more treasure tiles that you will pick up, one is a heal potion, and the other is an oracle.  The oracle is especially helpful as it will create the longest word possible out of your available letters.

Moving through the game you descend through various dungeons.  The game will present more difficult creatures to kill as you descend from level to level.  Within each level you have to kill a certain number of creatures before you can move on.  As well, periodically a dragon will appear.  These dragons are tough as nails and will take everything you have, including your oracle and bonus attack letters to destroy.

Thankfully each new level of the dungeon you get a new set of letters, so you aren't stuck trying to figure out what words you can spell with 'J' 'Y' 'E' for too long before you get some new letters.

Dungeon scroll is another addictive puzzle game that will keep you entertained far longer than you normally would be for $8.  Its ease of play and well-thought-ought combination of RPG and Puzzle has made it the independent Puzzle game of the year!

Score:  2.25





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