Last updated 11 sept 2012
Puzzle games: (my definition) : a game that requires planning and thinking to achieve a goal rather than timing and reflexes. Puzzle games exercise problem solving ability and often require certain steps to be completed in order to get to a next stage, where the complexity of the puzzle increases.
Some games have puzzle sequences. A great example would be “The Legend of Zelda” where you fight enemies but also need to open locked areas by solving a puzzle sequence. The recent “Skyward Sword” game was an awesome example of this… But I’ll write later about great old to new game conversions.
Another important factor, in modern times is the fact that you are probably playing on the go. People use iPhones and iPads (or other “smart” devices) to play on the train or waiting to meet someone. Basically while part multitasking with another activity. The advantage of puzzle games is that you can completely detach from the game at any time without being eaten by a dragon or other such hilarity when you are not looking at the screen, do what you have to then get back to the game with no alterations to the gameplay in that time. Kind of like going to the toilet while playing Monopoly, except you sister and your “friends” stealing Mayfair from your real estate portfolio.
So actually I really started this blog to showcase one game. It’s called “Trainyard”. It was designed by a guy called Matt Rix ( an obvious pseudonym) and is on the outset fairly simple in nature but is very powerful and really makes you think. I would even be as bold as to say its one of the most enjoyable puzzle games I have ever played. It starts easy to teach you the rules, expands at regular intervals so that you progress well with the game, and can take on more as your problem solving skills develop. Brilliant
I also must say that this game was the second thing I downloaded onto my new iphone 2 years ago (yes I was behind the game on that one, as Japanese phone contracts are hard to get out of without paying a crapload of cash). I’m yet to find a game as good as this in the past 2 years which is really saying something.
Your job is to get a colored train from is origin to its matching destination. Sometimes multiple trains. The board is empty besides those places, and sometimes a rock to stop you doing an obvious move that will make a level too easy, or to remove the symmetry of the playing area.
If two trains occupy the same square at the same time, they do not crash but mix colors. This game is good for artists as it uses the same subtractive color mixing as mixing paint. Red and blue is purple etc. Two primary colors make a secondary. Complementary color mixes produce brown ( of which there are no destinations, so you need to remix it, becoming the color of the train it contacts, the only unrealistic color blend in the game, but tha analogy works well enough as that is partly true)
Boom, this game just gets better and better. It has many levels, doesn’t get too hard too fast but will certainly get you thinking. I found myself even planning solutions on paper while at work or in my mind when I had some free time. In later stages, I took almost one month to get the solution right for one level. One great feature is that the levels in this game are non-linear, so you can skip a level and come back to it. You must complete, all the levels in one area to progress to a new area, where usually a new skill will be added to your repertoire.
All of these characteristics I have mentioned could fit into any great puzzle game. This game just works. Now I’ll show you some screen shots of it and if you like, get it and see. If you like fun puzzle games then I’m sure it will fascinate you. Even the sounds and simple animation of your train driving your track ( which you test repeatedly over the game ) are enjoyable.
I actualy found this while researching the game. It shows all the ideas that the maker had while making the game. whats good, whats bad… very insightful.
[button link="http://www.slideshare.net/lesleyphordtoy/trainyard-a-level-design-postmortem" target="blank" size="small"]Click to see game design[/button]
OTHER PUZZLE GAMES IPAD/IPHONE
A puzzle game of a different nature, twisting the “level up/level down” paradigm into get bigger and not being consumed. In a nice addition, moving also reduces your size making the game take on a zen feeling where waiting is encouraged. This game is not turn by turn so changing trains will undoubtably get you consumed by other protazoaic globules.
A great little turn by turn puzzler that moves you from origin to goal, but requires no pre planning as such. You plan ahead as you move. Meet a dead end and start again, avoiding the mistakes of the past. One great feature is that you can rotate the game area on your device which uniformly changes the functions of certain items to complete your goal. I love when people use new technologies with calm and clear intent