Hidden Gems – Puzzler World

Genre:  Puzzle/Word
Platform:  Nintendo DS

This game was close to making my top 25, but I felt I had enough puzzle games there.  This entry on the Nintendo DS is a collection of many different types of puzzles including hangman, picture puzzles, crosswords, word searches, sudoku and many more!  There were actually four games in this series, and they may not be done.  Any one of them is great and they each add or remove something from a previous game.  There was one released for the Nintendo DS, two for the 3DS and one downloadable for the 3DS.

It all started on the DS, however, so that’s where I’ll start, too.  I have spent many, many hours on this game.  It’s great for quick bursts of puzzling fun.  The later levels will start to take longer to solve.  Toward the end, it was taking me 20+ minutes for some of the more detailed puzzles.  The stylus, as usual, is perfect for puzzle games like this.  The crosswords are handled well as you can write the letters on the screen and it is able to detect them.  It may take a bit of tweaking in the settings for it to recognize certain letters, but once it’s dialed in, it’s near-perfect.

The variety of games is nice and will keep your brain occupied.  They are a great mix of logic puzzles and word games.  You don’t have to play any that you don’t want to, which is nice.  Many games only unlock games as you play, but this one lets you have full reign.  There are also challenge modes in some versions, where the puzzles are a bit harder.  My favorite are the word searches (I’m just a sucker for them) and the link-a-pix, which is the ambulance picture above.

You may not have heard of the series, but it’s a must if you like puzzle games as much as I do!

I spent a lot of time playing Diablo 2.  I’m not going to get into it too much becase there’s a future post coming about it.  But today in 2000, Diablo 2 sucked us all in and had us trying to abolish the devil and his brothers from the world.  Great, great game.  The gif below is actually Baal and came from here.

Diablo 2 baal


Chey’s Top 25 – #14 – Picross 3D

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo DS

I have played through this game three times total and have played through it perfectly once.  According to my DS, I have spent over 200 hours playing this game.  I will probably play it another 200 in my lifetime.  It was a new way of thinking for me and the only puzzle game of its kind that I’ve ever played.  And it is challenging and so much fun.

I had never played a picross game before, so the switch to 3D was non-existent for me.  I have played them religiously since, but this was my intro to the genre.  This is a logic game through and through.  You are presented with a cube or other shape with numbers on the outside of it.  Your job is to whittle away at the cube until you reveal the hidden shape inside.  The numbers are clues to help you do this.  The stylus and touch screen make this a breeze and fun.  They represent how many cubes are in each row or column.  Getting started is pretty easy as long as you have either 0’s (none of the cubes belong in that row) or the maximum numbers of cubes for the row (all belong).  From there, you can work your way through it and figure out which cubes belong there and which don’t.

The most challenging part of this game is the perfection, though.  To get a perfect score, you need to complete a level perfectly and within their time limit.  It forces you to think a bit more quickly than you might like, which means that you are apt to make mistakes.  I had to replay some levels six or seven times to get it perfect.  Some puzzles took upwards of 25 minutes to complete.  And I loved every second of it.

If you like logic and puzzle games, definitely get this one.  There’s is a sequel released in Japan, but 3DS games are region-locked, so I’d have to get a Japanese 3DS to play it, which I’m not going to do.  There are rumors that it is going to be released in Europe, so I’m hoping they extend that to the US as well.

Oldies but Goodies – Yo! Noid

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  NES

So apparently, between McKids, the Cool Spot game, and this game, I was a sucker for advertisements when I was a kid.  Both this and McKids were pretty good, though.  Despite it’s massive advertising, it really was a fun game.

You are playing as the Noid, who was always the bad guy in the commercials.  Anyway, you are trying to help him get through a city and eat pizza.  He is armed with a yo-yo and you boink the baddies out of your way as you collect inexplicably floating scrolls, which give you power in the mini-game at the end of each level.  Pretty much every level is the same, with very few variations.  Some of the mobs and scenery may change, but the game play does not.  The graphics are just ok, but the music was catchy!

Yo! Noid Play 2

At the end of each level, you got to play a mini game against the anti-Noid (?).  You picked  and bet how many pizzas you could eat.  It could get ugly as you could be devious and spice his pizza, and vice versa.  I don’t really remember what you got for it, but I remember it as being fun.  I don’t know that I’ve played this since I was a kid, so if I played it now, it might be no fun at all.  It’s good enough in my brain to be an oldie but goodie, though!



Genre:  Strategy/Simulation
Platform:  Playstation Portable (PSP)

What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord!? 2.  Yeah, that’s really the name of this game.  I was so excited to get it.  It looked like a lot of fun.  The premise is simple enough – you build a dungeon by digging out the earth and creating monsters to help the villain avoid the heroes.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong.  Totally, completely wrong.  This is the hardest game I’ve ever tried to learn.  I started by going through their numerous tutorials, but I could barely pass those.  This game requires you to start, develop and maintain a very delicate ecosystem below the ground.  Your basic monsters are eaten by the next tier, and so on.  But you can’t run out of nourishment for them or you won’t have any future growth.  No matter how much I tried, I just could not get it and pass more than the first few levels.  I tried A LOT.

This game came with the original on the UMD (disk), so I tried that as well.  Failed there, too.  Only on this one, I can’t get passed the first level.  I have looked up tutorials online, but the consensus seems to be that this game is just stupid hard.  Here’s the thing, though – it’s still a really fun game!  There’s some sort of satisfaction digging in a large area and trying to thwart the hero.  The game uses humor very well, too.  I would definitely recommend that you try it for yourself.  Maybe you’ll think in a different way and be wildly successful.

Stinkers – Civilization V

Genre:  Turn-Based Strategy, Simulation
Platform:  PC

It’s been a couple of years since this game came out, and it still hurts to have to put it on this list.  I wanted to love this game so much.  I have played A TON of Civilization over the years between Civ 3 and Civ 4.  This game was a monster disappointment.

Civilization is a turn-based strategy game, which means that you take as much time as you need on your turn (you’re playing either other players or the computer).  Once you are done, you end your turn and the other players do the same.  Then it’s your turn again.  The goal of the game is to win the world – peacefully with a cultural, space race or democratic victory or by force with a domination or conquest victory.  You build up your civilization with new cities, buildings, technology and military.

There are many out there who say that this was the best Civilization game yet.  I just can’t agree with them.  It was not a fun game for me.  They took out a lot of what I found fun about Civilization 4.  First, I could not adapt to the new combat method.  In Civ 4, you could have “stacks of doom” on a single tile, which had its advantages and disadvantages.  It provided a lot of defense bonuses to your army, but if you were flanked, you could take heavy casualties.  I HATE the new system.  It forces me to play a new way, but I just couldn’t adjust.

They also removed religion from the game.  Now, if you know me, you’ll find it ironic that I have a problem with them removing religion from anything.  However, it really added a deep strategic element to Civ 4 and I really missed not having that as a tool.  Now, they did add this in an expansion, but I had no interest in buying it.

There were some good changes as well such as ruins in exploration, natural wonders, barbarian changes and city-states.  These were not enough to keep me playing, though, and I never finished a full game.  If you’re a fan of the Civ series, I would recommend playing it and making your own judgement.  It just wasn’t a good game for me.  I’m a bit nervous about Civilization 6, which is coming out later this year.


Genre:  Word
Platform:  XBone

I found this game two days ago on the XBox Store.  I am already declaring it an awesome game.  I’ve spent a total of about 8 hours playing it, although it feels like a lot more.  I love a good word game and will easily get sucked into one.  This particular word game combines a typical word game with an RPG!

You start the game playing as Grimm, a little dude working his way through a monster-filled realm.  You can play in either story mode or endless mode.  Both are fun.  Endless is just what it sounds like – a survival mode where you work your way through monster after monster.  You earn coins as you go and can occasionally buy upgrades and potions to help with the increasing difficulty.

As with most games, story mode is where it’s at.  You work through a map of levels, earning stars as you go.  This is where it gets cool – the stars aren’t just given for varying levels of “good job”.  Instead, you need to play through each level four times to get all of the stars.  Each is an objective.  For example, the first is simply beat the monsters.  The second is a time trial.  The third is some sort of challenge like “can’t use E” or something equally as challenging.  The fourth is a special challenge where the monsters are much tougher and have specific requirements like “takes damage only from words starting with a vowel”.

As you play through story mode, you can spend crystals you earn on permanent upgrades.  There are a lot of them and they all help to make you more awesome.  Of course, if you’re not good at the core of the game, it’s not going to matter much.  The game play is simple – find words from a block given to do damage to monsters.  It sounds simple and is, but when I spelled out the word “AFFIDAVIT” the other night, I felt pretty awesome.  Some monsters will make tiles unusable or make it so you take damage when you use them.

It also keeps track of your stats!  This is a feature I always like.  It shows you how many of pretty much everything you’ve done.  I’ve spelled the word “BACON” five times and spelled out 25 palindromes.  And for the fellow achievement whores – this game is going to be a breeze to complete.  I’ve gotten 40 achievements in just under 8 hours.

This all leads to a really fun and highly re-playable game.  If you like word games, find it!

Chey’s Top 25 – #15 – Project Gotham Racing

Genre:  Racing
Platform:  XBox Original

I got Project Gotham Racing (PGR from here on out) when I got the XBox original on launch day.  I loved this game from the second I put it in the drive (pun intended).  The graphics are amazing and still hold up well today.  It was the first game that I played that allowed you to integrate your own soundtrack from the XBox’s hard drive into the game.  It handles that brilliantly – there’s a DJ on the radio and he talks between your songs, just like the radio.

I wasn’t much of a fan of racing games before this one.  I played a few of them over the years including RC Pro Am, Super Cars and Need For Speed.  But this game was/still is special.  You don’t just drive to win in this game.  Now, if you want to, there is a mode for that.  However, that is a tiny fraction of what you can do.  The game is divided into cities – New York, London, Tokyo, San Francisco, etc.  In each city there are different tracks and challenges that you need to pass to get better cars and progress through the game.  My favorite car was the Nissan GTR Skyline (superb handling).  Those challenges include time trials, overtake challenges, total laps and more.  But the heart of this game is kudos.

You get kudos by driving with style.  Anyone can slam into other cars and walls to win.  This game rewards you for finesse.  You get points and combo streaks for things like clean sections, drifting around corners, getting air, driving on two wheels, passing cars (without hitting them) and a lot more!  If you hit something, your streak is over and you don’t get the kudos.  Let me repeat this – you are rewarded in this racing game for using your breaks once in a while.  Once you get good at it, notice how your hands react to the course and how fluid you are with the game.  I love this game so much that it regularly finds itself in my XBox 360 drive (thank goodness for backwards compatibility).

Even if you don’t typically like racing games, I would recommend trying this one.  It’s very different from all other racers and I haven’t been able to find one like it since (except PGR 2, 3 and 4, which are all solid games).