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505 Tangram - DSiWare Review

Game Info
505 Tangram

DSiWare | Cosmigo | 1 Player | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
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16th May 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

After Cosmigo impressed me with their $5 Solitaire bundle, I was keen to see what else they'd release. Since then, they came out with 3D Mahjong, but that ultimately didn't reach the same level of excellence as their first release. Sadly, 505 Tangram's execution is more in line with the latter release. It's definitely a content-filled package ,so in that respect the developers have done well. But it does not do much else beyond simply meeting minimum expectations. Whether or not you're okay with this really depends on how much you're hankering for a tangram-based puzzle game.

    Loading the game for the first time, players will be shown a table with five coloured books on the top screen, all situated in the scenery of a modest home. This serves as the main area where you can select which type of puzzle you'd like to try out. On the Touch Screen, you'll find five different categories: People, Animals, Objects, Shapes, and Typo (i.e., alphanumeric characters and marks). Each area contains 101 puzzles, amounting to 505 in all. This menu also allows you to choose from a small set of additional options. The 'Help' and 'Random' buttons do exactly what you'd expect, while the 'Stats' box lists some of your best records and some achievements you can strive for.

    Once you get into a puzzle, you'll find the controls are really simple to get acquainted with. Tapping a tangram piece once will bring up three white circles along the corners of the shape. You can tap and hold one of these corner circles as you slide a piece to the right orientation. Tapping a tangram piece twice will flip it horizontally. The system also allows you to use the D-Pad, but if you have a stylus handy, you won't see a need to explore this. Once you've dragged the right pieces into the shape outline and they've all been put in their correct spots, you'll earn a special tangram for clearing the level. This will appear on the top screen as you try to form an overall jigsaw puzzle with the goal of completing the entire book in this fashion.

The best part about this release is the user-friendly nature of the interface. So long as you don't exit the category you're in, once you get stuck on a given puzzle, all you have to do is flip to another page in the book and try another one. Thanks to an auto-save feature that runs discreetly behind the scenes, all the pieces you've moved will remain as you left them until you go back to the Main Menu. This definitely helps keep frustration levels to a minimal. What also helps with that is the Hint feature. In the bottom-right hand corner of each puzzle page is an icon with a lower case "i". You can grab only a couple hints per puzzle, but then again, there's nothing stopping you from using all the hints, going back to the Main Menu, then returning to the puzzle again armed with the new knowledge. 

    As a single-player experience, I think 505 Tangram does a decent job at encouraging regular progress from the average player. In each category, only a small sample of puzzles will be available to you at the start, requiring you to complete those before you can advance to the locked ones. Admittedly though, because of the lack of variety, I can't say 80% of people who purchase this title would actually complete all 505 puzzles. But at least, if you're big on tangrams, there's a lot to keep you occupied. I thought there was some potential to expand this from being a solo experience into something that the whole family could take part in so it's just too bad there isn't even a profile system set in place.

    This release is actually pretty underwhelming when it comes to presentation, which was disappointing to see considering what the developers had done in the past. The visuals use a dark colour scheme which doesn't exactly make the game look more appealing. You do have the ability to add a small splash of colour in changing the appearance of the actual pieces, but the selection you have to choose from isn't exactly inviting either. The music isn't worth mentioning at all. Simply imagine a soft and repetitive tune and you'll pretty much have a good idea of what to expect.

    In the end, 505 Tangram does its job at appealing to a niche audience, but there's little effort beyond that. The value in this package is ultimately what makes this a decent fix for fans of tangram-based puzzle games. If you keep your expectations low, you should be perfectly fine with spending $5 on this.

21/30 - Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Easy controls, simple execution, five different categories of tangram puzzles, features a banks of hints for when you get stuck
Presentation 6/10 - Colour scheme is dull, repetitive audio, being able to essentially work out multiple puzzles is a big plus
Enjoyment 2/5 - Decent fun, most will lose interest early on in completing every last puzzle, frustration kept to a minimal thanks to the auto-save feature
Extra Content 5/5 - Loads of puzzles to satisfy your tangram fix, achievements to strive for and records to beat, lacking a profile system, good value

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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