1001 Crystal Mazes Collection
DSiWare | Teyon
| 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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20th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
You control a circular icon of a generic male or female character and push crystals with the goal of bring them into their end zones, thereby solving the puzzle. There are multiple ways to play the game: you can use the arrows on the compass-esque area on your touch screen, the D-Pad, or the ABYX buttons as Up, Down, Left and Right directives. At the start of the game, your skills will likely appear rusty (even if you're acquainted with these kinds of puzzles), but the more you complete, the stronger your awareness will be about how certain actions will prevent you from succeeding. For instance, two crystals pushed up against a wall back-to-back will result in a dead-end move. The game won't tell you when you've made a crucial mistake though, so it's important that you keep this in mind as you try to make sense of the puzzles you're given.
If you don't realize until later that you've created an unfixable problem, don't fret. The game allows you to retrace your steps really far back simply by pressing the corresponding button on the touch screen. There's a re-do button as well, and an orange restart button for you to begin the puzzle from scratch. If you would like to get a better view of the map, you can zoom in or out by pressing the Plus and Minus signs on the right-side of the touch screen. Alternatively, to get a quick overview of the entire map, you can hold the L or R Trigger and release to go back to a zoomed-in view.
s aptly named for the amount of content it provides - there truly are hundreds and hundreds of puzzles, organized into different sets or categories. 'Relaxed Collection' will be the obvious choice for beginners to this style of gameplay since these puzzles tend to have fewer crystals to manage and smaller spaces to work with. That being said, if you've never tried this sort of thing before, you might not fair as well for even these require a certain amount of skill. But there are a handful of "easier" ones where you can practice and learn how to approach future puzzles as well. There's also the 'Classic' and 'Challenge' collection sets, which appeal more to those who have tried this before, in one form or another. And then there's the 'Diabolical Collection' which is solely for advanced players, given the incredible amount of challenge these pose. And even the ones that may not be as complicated just take a long time to complete. Some solutions will take much longer than 5 minutes to complete, and that's not even considering the amount of trial and error that's bound to creep in. Although first-time players may have a hard time enjoying this at first, those looking for a challenging puzzle game should be pleased.
There's a good sense of replay value in the game, as well. Completing each stage will earn you a checkmark so you can make it your aim to clear as many as you can - beating them all could take months to do, if you're good! When you first load your Profile and cross the first loading screen, you'll start off in one of the puzzles you have yet to complete. Order is managed on a set-by-set basis, so for your first boot-up, you'll be tackling Stage #1 from the Classic set. It's a shame that there's no overall percentile so you can have an overview of how you're doing for all sets. However, each puzzle keeps track of your fastest time, so you can also go back to puzzles you've completed and try to speed through them quicker.
The look of the puzzles aren't particularly impressive but they do look nice, even close-up. The mix of backgrounds also do much in making the game more interesting. The two characters in the game appear, not only as icons, but they're also plastered on a graphic used for the Main Menu. But because they're so forgettable, it may seem annoying to have to see their faces over and over again. The game uses only two music tracks - one for the Main Menu, and one for actual gameplay. The latter is the one you'll hear a lot because of the looping and considering the number of puzzles there are to solve. It is decent, but more tracks would've been greatly appreciated. There are some slight crackling noises that you might here if you input too many actions at once, making the audio a bit fuzzy. But it's nothing to worry about, really.
This is entirely a single-player affair but the game allows for up to 3 different save files, allowing for multiple people within the same household to challenge their brain. Those who want to compare stats with their sibling or friend to see who's better may be disappointed to find that there's no option for you to do that. And it might have been nice if the system's capabilties could have been used further, by adding a multiplayer mode where two people see who can solve puzzles the fastest. But these are just minor complaints and for the most part, it's a pretty strong package.
This difficult logic puzzle is a great fit for DSiWare. You're paying for tons and tons of content, not to mention portability for those occasions when you're looking for on-the-go gaming. The depth of this simple concept comes from the puzzle solutions themselves, which are very challenging to play. This is something that likely already has a niche of fans, but if you've never tried this before and you consider yourself a fan of puzzlers, I doubt you'll be disappointed beyond the repetition. Just don't go in expecting anything terribly memorable, because a special game this is not.
23/30 - Good
Gameplay 7/10 - Simple but by no means an easy game, able to re-do moves, multiple control options, has a level of depth to it
Presentation 7/10 - A small number of songs, only two music tracks one of which you'll hear constantly, different stage backgrounds for variety
Enjoyment 4/5 - Can be fun if you're a fan of the formula, a very challenging game, some puzzles will take quite some time to solve
Extra Content 5/5 - Multiple save files, inability to compare stats, can aim for best times on all stages, loads of content, great value for the price
Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)