With a very cute and simple presentation, Puzzle Guzzle has enough content and gameplay to last way beyond its $20 price point.
Like any other typical puzzle game, Puzzle Guzzle involves pieces falling from the top of the screen and having the challenge of lining them up in some specific way. The unique angle to this title is that the player must create fully enclosed polygonal shapes using nothing but triangles and squares. The bigger the polygon, the higher the score. As any other good puzzle game before it, the play control and gameplay factors are simple but addicting.
Controlling the game is a breeze and feels very accurate whether you use the analog nub or d-pad. And rotating pieces is performed with either the face or shoulder buttons. No matter which combination you use, cursor movement remains tight and responsive.
Because simply playing against a computer controlled AI would grow tiresome, the game offers several different gameplay modes to keep the puzzling going. Gamers who have ever played Kirby’s Air Ride or even the recently released Super Smash Bros. Brawl will recognize the way the player advances in the single player mode. As if on a piece of graph paper, once one level is beaten (one square on this graph paper) the surrounding levels (surrounding squares) become unlocked. This keeps game progression at a steady pace.
Perhaps the most interesting gameplay doesn’t involve falling shapes at all. When the player first creates their “mascot,” the game asks for your sign. From this information, the game will generate your fortune everyday you turn the game’s power on. It holds absolutely no relevance to the gameplay, but it is a cool side feature nonetheless.
Further supporting the blocky theme of the game, each character (mascot) is made up of a combination of simple shapes. Once defeated, the player gets to choose which part of opponent to add to your collection. Acting like Smash Bros. Brawl Trophy set-up or the 360’s Achievement points, Puzzle Guzzle using these interchangeable body parts as incentive to keep playing with a recognizable “gotta catch’em all” theme.
If you are the type of gamer who likes to takes things at your own pace but still retain a high reward, then the Quiz Puzzles should be especially enjoyable. Here, the player has as many moves and as much time as you need to complete each puzzle. And once solved, the player is rewarded with a body part from a mascot. This mode may definitely be rewarding, but I found it odd that the preceding menu screen gives the player the option to replay the same puzzle that was just solved. To me, this seems like a minor oversight on the development end. Why would I want to solve the same puzzle that I just solved five seconds ago?
Up to eight players can compete via Ad-Hoc and game sharing, but infrastructure mode is not an option. But as an added benefit, the player can download new puzzles from the game’s website which is directly available from the game’s main splash screen. And for those players who love to craft their own puzzling works of art, the make-your-own-puzzle editor can offer tons of replay value. These custom made puzzles can even be traded with fellow Puzzle Guzzle players.
Without question, the game has a cute and lovely presentation. Simple blocky characters always grace the screen with a pastel color pallet. Unfortunately, I found the audio aspect of this game to be on the annoying side. Not only do the musical tunes repeat themselves too often, but each mascot also has their own unique voice (which can be collected once defeated). These voices are spoken non-stop throughout each match, forcing even the hardest-core ears to turn hit the “-“ volume button on their PSP’s.
In my first 30 minutes of game time with this title, I think I was more confused than anything. I wasn’t really sure how I was making shapes disappear, let alone how to plan ahead to make some big moves. But after a good hour or two, the learning curve vanished and I was creating large multisided polygons with ease. Because Puzzle Guzzle makes the player think in different ways than a typical “line up three or four of the same colored pieces together” gameplay, there is a bit of a learning curve. But if the player is willing to spend a patient hour with this title, it will be gladly realized what an entertaining game it really is.
Despite having an annoying audio side, Puzzle Guzzle is one of the best $20 games I have played in a long time. While the overall presentation may be a little on the simple/bland side, there is plenty of gameplay here to last for a long time. PSP owners looking for a cheaper but entertaining puzzle game should definitely check this one out.