Puzzle Guzzle Preview
According to some, this new generation is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we have hardware capable of delivering the most astounding interactive experiences in history, as the industry only continues to grow. On the other hand, some aspects of the good ol' days are disappearing rapidly; in some cases, even entire genres are affected. Fighting games, for example, used to represent the very crux of the industry thanks to the prevalence and popularity of arcades. But if there's one genre that cannot be touched by the glitz and glamour of this new generation, it's the timeless puzzle category. It began with the likes of Tetris and has bravely soldiered onwards, ignoring the hustle and bustle of revolutionary games with names like Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, Halo, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, etc. Of course, they're not as often found on the home consoles these days (although there are a few exceptions), but we can always look to the PSP. Sony's handheld never lets us puzzle fanatics down!
Scheduled to join the ranks of Lumines, Exit, Mercury Meltdown, PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient, and Lemmings on February 26, Agetec's Puzzle Guzzle looks to be another brain-scratching gem. How many different ways can you create a challenging game with nothing more than differently shaped and colored tiles? The world may never know, but we do know we can't get enough of ‘em. Much like the aforementioned GameBoy classic, Tetris, these tiles drop from the top of the screen and start to pile up. The player rotates the tiles in order to connect the designs and make larger shapes. In other words, you're looking to create many small shapes inside one big shape (of the same structure), and of course, the further you go, the faster the tiles fall. When we saw the press release from Agetec about this game, we initially saw the screenshots and were confused; it's just very difficult to understand the purpose simply by seeing the pics. Hopefully, this description will help ya out, but we get this sneaking suspicion we truly won't understand until we get our hands on it.
It doesn't really matter what it looks like, though, now does it? We're talking about a puzzle game here, and all that matters - all that matters - is the gameplay. Therefore, it's time to take a look at the available modes in Puzzle Guzzle: we get Drop Puzzle, Stuffit Puzzle and Quiz Puzzle. The first on that list is the standard mode, and we just finished explaining it above. Stuffit provides you with a screen packed full (yep, "stuffed") of tiles, and you simply have to assemble as many different shapes as you can in 90 seconds. Quiz Puzzle is more complex; the game provides the player with a preset number of tiles and you have to rotate them into perfect position. If you can develop the required shape in time, a chain reaction satisfactorily clears the screen. Furthermore, you won't always be battling the clock; you will face off against over 100 different opponents in the game, and the more you defeat, the more you can customize your own bizarre little character. We're not really sure if certain opponents will present unique difficulties during a battle, but we'd like to think Agetec embraced this, as it'd be added depth.
Not surprisingly, Puzzle Guzzle can be good for fun for up to 8 players via ad-hoc multiplayer, and you can participate in Battle Roayls and Tag Matches. There's no way for us to play online, but we will be able to download new backgrounds and skins for the puzzles, and we've even heard talk of all new puzzles becoming available entirely for free! If you want some true brain-busting entertainment, take the next step and start generating your very own puzzle, which you can later share with friends. Can you stump everyone by creating a puzzle only you can solve? Something that will confuse and confound that buddy of yours who claims to be some kind of puzzle genius? This edit mode in the game is for you; just don't waste too much of your life absorbed in carefully placing brightly colored blocks. ...that's just plain unhealthy, and reminds us all of just how addictive puzzle games can really be. Sure, there will be plenty of great games out by the end of February, but remember, Puzzle Guzzle will only cost you twenty bucks, and that's a more-than-reasonable price tag, in our humble opinion. The PSP continues to get all kinds of great puzzlers, and this one is no exception.
When you're on the go, there's often nothing quite so entertaining as finding a quiet corner on the train (or bus, or plane, or car, or whatever) and getting lost in the colorful and endlessly challenging world of a top-notch puzzle title. We don't care who you are, how old you are, or what types of games float your boat. These simple little wonders are for everyone!
12/17/2007 Ben Dutka