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Bruiser & Scratch: Puzzling Paws - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Bruiser and Scratch: Puzzling Paws

WiiWare | Steel Penny Games | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Classic Controller; GameCube Controller
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Review
11th December 2009; By KnucklesSonic8

When it was first revealed that a number of ex-Naughty Dog employees were forming a company of their own, quite a bit of excitement ensued (and rightly so). Bruiser and Scratch: Puzzling Paws was a WiiWare project that looked to be a rather modest start for the rising company, but in the end became widely-overlooked. Nevertheless, those that did give the game a spin would've likely been really surprised with the type of gameplay found therein.

    The entire game tasks players with combining similar shapes and objects together by manuevering them around a game board. Players can use their on-screen characters to move items in one of four directions by pushing them from behind. If an object's path isn't obstructed by another item, it will continue moving across the board until it hits something. Rather than stopping at the edge of the board, it will re-appear and continue going on the opposite side. If there's nothing there to stop it, it will eventually hit your character, forcing you to restart. In essence, the gameplay is very straight-forward but when you actually play the game, you'll find that the game is far from easy.

    
As early as the fifth level in the game's Story Mode, the difficulty spikes with hard, brain-wracking puzzles. Although these can be solved with much trial and error, players must quickly learn that you need to exercise much forethought and do some advanced planning before jumping right into a puzzle. Because of how difficult they are, it's really gratifying to just clear a level, let alone doing so in a record number of moves. Along the way, a story unfolds and you'll learn about the two main characters as they go along their travels exploring this foriegn world. It's a rather mysterious story but most won't find it very compelling; most won't even see the story progress as far as it does because of how difficult the puzzles are.

    Graphically-speaking, the game could look stronger, but given the amount of content on offer here, it's not that big of a deal. Although unfortunately, it's not illogical to presume that most would write this off as a childish game judging from the screenshots and videos alone. Ultimately, though, the graphics do suit the "eerie feel" that prevails throughout the game. When it comes to audio, the in-game music won't do much to impress and although it does suit the game well, it would've been nice if there were more instrumentals during actual gameplay instead of just creepy sound effects.

    Because of the
large number of puzzles, there's plenty of replay value, not only in going for medals but also just in completing the game in its entirety. Even if you manage to complete the difficult puzzles in the Story Mode, there's also a Challenge Mode to test your mental capacities even further! It would've been a lot better, though, if you had the ability to enter your name for ranking purposes so you could compare your stats with other friends and family members. It's really odd that this wasn't considered when you consider how much bragging rights there are to be had simply by being able to complete a puzzle. On a similar note, the game would've greatly benefited from a co-op feature. It's almost an obvious thing to include in a game like this and it really is a glaring omission. Still, you can always talk about the puzzles with those in the same room with you.

    The game will last you many, many hours but only if you're a patient gamer. It's no overstatement to say that the game is really challenging for almost all ages, and anyone ages 12 and under will have a really hard time even with some of the earlier puzzles. In that respect, it would have worked out better if they had a few more puzzles with easier solutions at the start. However, this isn't the case, and as a result, some may lose interest at the start because of how difficult the game is. The game can get very frustrating and if you're generally impatient when it comes to puzzles and brain teasers, then Bruiser and Scratch is definitely not a game for you.

    
It's really discouraging to see how Bruiser and Scratch turned out. The game introduces a high level of challenge that's lacking from some of the other puzzle games on the platform and the developers definitely deserve kudos for that as it's the most appealing aspect about the game. At the same time, because of the high price tag and the game's presentation, many were turned off; as a result, sales numbers were very low. To see a game like this turn out the way it did must be very disheartening for Steel Penny Games. That being said, I can only hope that the developers will learn from this experience and continue developing games for this platform since it's clear that they have some great ideas still in the works. In short, although the price tag can be a big put-off, if you're a fan of puzzle games and are looking for more of a challenge, then give Bruiser and Scratch a try, but prepare yourself - you'll be surprised with how challenging it is.
 

20/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10  - Simple concept with very challenging gameplay, can get frustrating
Presentation 6/10 - Kind of creepy but it suits the premise of the game, music could've been stronger
Enjoyment 3/5 - If you have the patience for it, you'll find the game to be very challenging; if not, you'll give up early
Extra Content 4/5 - Very large amount of levels, replay value exists in beating your best scores, Challenge mode
 
Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Bruiser and Scratch: Puzzling Paws
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