Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wheel! Of! Ridiculous.

I downloaded Puzzler World 2 yesterday. The fact that I'm writing a blog post about it now means that either I've found so many things to love about it that I have to share it with you so can jump on the sale price, or it's so terrible that I've already gathered a list of complaints long enough that I have to get it off my chest before I suffocate. Puzzler World 2 falls into the latter category. Mostly.

Puzzler World 2, much like the original Puzzler World, is a collection of 560 puzzles of ten different types, each with a bonus puzzle attached to help you "win big", if the entire thing is to be interpreted as a game show. Which is probably what the developers were shooting for, really, although it's hard to imagine crosswords, sudoku, and hidden picture puzzles as game shows. (Never mind the fact that all three happened.) The puzzles range from fairly challenging, like the three I already mentioned, to the inane, like the Silhouette puzzles which are essentially monochromatic coloring book pages, or Word Searches, which, to quote my high school chemistry teacher, "are for stupid people." (Which is to say, they're algorithmic and don't require tremendous skill.)

I enjoy the Backwords and Patchwords puzzles new to this second edition, although they become somewhat banal after a bit. The game showy atmosphere is still present, though it seems to oscillate between light, daytime game show and deadpan, serious-face million-dollar game show too quickly. Altogether, it's a decent collection of puzzles, and it's large enough to hold one over for quite a while.

But it also sucks somewhat grandly. Like its predecessor, Puzzler World 2 seems to have been ported from another platform to the PC. (The first one came from the DS, this one seems very iPaddy.) The transition from device to PC isn't nearly as smooth here, and there are some bizarre interface quirks that show this. Plus, there are a lot more instances in this game where you have to sit and endure animations, rather than being able to skip them like before.

It feels like a lot of things that weren't broken before were "fixed" in this edition, but the "fixing" just made them worse. While you now have access to larger Link-a-Pix puzzles (courteously supplied by the often-cited folks at Conceptis Puzzles), the interface is also much clunkier and frustrating to work with (including not solving the basic problem of not allowing multiple active lines). The Fitword puzzles got a helpful drag-and-drop makeover (rather than typing in every word), but the controls can still be finicky and dropping one pixel away from your target can set you back several steps. There are a lot of things that make Puzzler World 2 gradually more frustrating than the original.

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy this game though. As far as puzzle collections go, it still has a larger batch of puzzles and a wider variety than what you'll find most other places. It's just those annoying quirks everywhere that give Puzzler World 2 a major downside. If you're considering buying this, I'd say the current sale price on Steam ($7.99) is fair, especially considering you get Puzzler World 1 for free along with it. But if you're easily turned off by these sorts of issues, you'd only be putting your money in Jeopardy! (See that? I did a game shows thing!)

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