Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo 3DS

I was doing a fairly routine “when is Picross 3D 2 coming out” search last night when I found out that it’s out and has been since September 1!  It’s been out in Japan for some time now, but because the 3DS is region locked, I could not play it without buying a Japanese 3DS.  I love this franchise, but not that much.  This game is digital only and available from the Nintendo store.  I’m a bit bummed that it’s not a full retail release, but I still get to play the game.

I immediately bought it ($30) and dug in.  I didn’t let myself get too wrapped up in it as it was a work night.  I ended up going to bed at 2:30 anyway.  There are some notable differences from the original.  The first is the addition of colors.  You no longer need to simply clear all of the blocks that aren’t there.  Now you have to mark the ones that are left and determine which color they are.  This adds an entirely new level of difficulty and makes the game more fun for me.  The other change is the shape of the figure you’re working on.  As you can see in the image above, there are now curves and differently sized lines.  This might help later on when the puzzles really get tough.

I am thoroughly enjoying it so far and didn’t feel I needed to wait to the end to post about it.  I know what I’ll be playing all weekend!

 

Stinkers – Toon-Doku

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  DS

Everyone knows by now that I love puzzle and logic games.  I enjoy a good game of sudoku now and again, so I thought the concept of Toon-Doku was fun.  You apply the same rules of sudoku – no more than one number per column, row or block – to a grid of icons instead.  I’m sure this would have actually been fun if it wasn’t for the horrible presentation.

The image above looks pretty good.  You can see everything pretty clearly.  This is not how it actually looks on the system.  The icons are so small that it’s hard to tell them apart.  This makes it impossible to fill out the grid, which really defeats the purpose of the game.  I really wanted to like this one, but after five minutes with it, I was done.  Skip this one.

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Mobile

I don’t play very many games on my mobile phone.  I have a Samsung Galaxy S5, but it is a work phone and therefor don’t like to spend much time with it.  We have a hate/hate relationship.  I think the Galaxy S5 is a solid phone, though.  I just don’t like the 24-hour availability that comes with it.

However, I do play Triple Town from time to time.  This is a cute little puzzler.  You start with a fairly blank plot of land.  You may have a couple of trees, bushes or a house or two.  Your goal is to upgrade items on the screen and fill it with as many highly upgraded items as you can.  You upgrade items by matching three of the same.  Three grasses make a bush, three bushes make a tree, three trees make a house, threes houses make a bigger house, etc etc.

The challenge is in the bears that you will also need to place from time to time.  They will get in the way of the items that you want to place and move from spot to spot every turn.  You can trap three bears in one spot and create a church.  Three churches make a cathedral and so on.

Each game only lasts 5-10 minutes, so it’s fun on the go.  It’s a fun game and I would recommend that you try it at least once.  I guess it’s also available on Steam, so I’m looking into that soon.  I hope they give you larger areas to play with than you get with the mobile version.

Hidden Gems – Pogo Island

Genre:  Card and Board, Arcade, Word, Puzzle
Platform:  DS

I believe I have expressed my satisfaction with Pogo.com previously on this site, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this compilation of 5 different Pogo games, Pogo Island for the Nintendo DS.  This game contains a couple of my favorites – Word Whomp, Tri-Peaks Solitaire, Phlinx, Squelchies and Poppit.  Each game is fun in its own right and I can easily play them for hours on end.  This is a great game for travel for me.  Just pop it in and the time on planes just flies by (pun intended).

This game also lets you collect tokens as you play and upload them to your Pogo account, which is a nice bonus.  If you’re a fan of Pogo games or just solitaire games in general, I think that you will really enjoy this one.  I happened to have found it by accident in a GameStop one day and picked it up immediately.  I had never heard of it before, so it was a true hidden gem.

 

Genre – Puzzle
Platform – XBone

Tumblestone is a puzzle game, through and through.  And it’s hard.  I think that’s what I love about this game most.  It really requires me to think in different ways as I progress.  It’s not for the faint of heart, so if you’re looking for a casual puzzle game to waste a minute or two, this might not be for you.

The goal in Tumblestone is fairly simple – clear the board of tumblestones.  However, accomplishing this can be difficult.  There are several modes of play and they each have their own challenges:

  • Story mode is the main game.  In each level, you have a board with stones in it and you just need to clear them all to advance to the next level.  Each world has 30 levels and there are 11 total.  I am currently in world 6, after playing for about 40 hours.  Each world presents you with a new twist in the game that really makes you have to learn the strategy before you can move on.  There is a story that is cute and engaging as well.
  • Multiplayer is a lot of fun.  I don’t usually play games against other people, but I happen to be pretty good at this and haven’t lost an online match yet.  There are three different types of multiplayer modes.  Battle is the hardest.  Every time an opponent clears a line, your board drops a line.  These are pretty quick matches and can be hectic.
    Puzzle Race is just that – a straight-up race to clear your board first.  The host can set rules such as modifiers and game length for all modes.
    Tug of War is my favorite of the three.  You have sections that you need to clear and as you do, other players have sections added.  This one allows for the most time to think and that’s why I like it.  I can plan ahead and then make my moves.Tumblestone play 2
  • Arcade is DLC, but I would recommend it if you find you’re liking the game.  There are three modes in Arcade.  Marathon is my favorite here, again because it gives you all the time you need to plan and play.  I’m currently top of the leaderboard on this one  🙂  I’m sure that won’t last for too long.
    Heartbeat is a never-ending scrolling board that makes you play as fast as you can.
    Infinipuzzle is also a scrolling board, but you have more time in this one.

The graphics are cute and colorful.  I honestly don’t notice the soundtrack much, so it’s just fine.  I do like the sound effects as you clear stones.  If you are looking for a moderately difficult puzzle game, then you will really like this one.

Oldies but Goodies – Bust-a-Move

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  SNES

Bust-a-Move has been released, in some form or another, on pretty much every console since SNES.  I had actually played this one first on an arcade machine and immediately had to have it.  To my surprise, I found that it was available for the SNES, which I had.  I still have this game on my SNES and do actually play it.  There have been many clones of this game since, one of my favorites being Phlinx on pogo.com.

This version of the game stars Bub and Bob, of Bubble Bobble fame on the NES.  You are helping them clear a board of balls by matching three or more.  If you’re good, you’ll become skilled at bouncing them off of the walls to make tough shots and have large groups fall at once.

My favorite mode is the multiplayer battle mode.  I played through the story, but this is where the fun is.  You go through rivals until you reach the boss.  You can set how many wins you need per match before you move on to the next foe.  I have played through this many, many times and it’s still fun.

The graphics are just ok, but the soundtrack is great. I was humming it just thinking about it. The sound effects are also cute and add to the game. If you like simple puzzlers without a lot of story in your way, check this out!

 

Fun Mobile Game – 94%

Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Mobile (iOS and Android)

I don’t like to play games on my phone.  I don’t like to do anything on my phone.  That’s probably because it’s a work phone and is forever associated with being woken up in the middle of the night because I’m on call every so often.  94% is a rare exception to that rule, even though it’s only a “bathroom” game, if you know what I mean.

It is a neat idea, though.  It’s very similar to Family Feud without the audience or lame jokes (which I thoroughly enjoy!).  This is straight-up category and answers.  However, it is very challenging.  You are given three categories in each level.  Your job is to guess 94% of the answers to that category.  Some of them may only have 5 answers, while others may have as many as 10.  This is a lot more difficult than it sounds.  I refuse to cheat and look up the answers, which is probably I’ll never complete the category “luxury brands” which contains Louis Vitton and Prada, but I cannot think of any others.  I’ve entered just about every luxury car brand I can think of and know nothing about fashion.

But I digress.  The first two categories are written, but the last is a picture.  I find these most fun.  You’ve heard the “every picture is worth 1000 words” adage, but it usually doesn’t take guessing a dozen or more to finish these.  If you get stuck, you do get coins for completing each category and level, which can be used for hints.  For 10 coins, it will show you the first letter and the rest of the letters mixed with others.  Still stuck?  For 80 coins, you can unlock a hint.

This is a really fun game for a quick time waster.  I’m on level 128 right now and there 245 total right now.  It’s free with ads, which aren’t too oppressive.  If you like this type of game, definitely get it!

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