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Puzzler World 2013 - 3DS Review

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Puzzler World 2013

3DS | Maximum Games / Ideas Pad | 1 Player | Out Now
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23rd April 2013; By KnucklesSonic8

For template-driven affairs that succumb to the syndrome of annually rehashing old material, reinvention can be an energizing boost for the overall series. Deciding against such a move and instead sticking to the tried-and-true can be a risk simply for complacency reasons, but there are situations where this can pay off, such as when an entry is the premiere foray into a particular market. Though it is not the first of its kind on the respective platform it finds itself, this matches, to a degree, the direction of the latest iteration in the Puzzler World series. Going by past experiences, a consumer familiar with the franchise may jump the gun on the intentions and the small scale of differentiation seen in this new edition. But Puzzler World 2013 doesn't regurgitate, instead featuring enough new components to give stasis to the old, making it a fairly sound entry for existing fans and newcomers alike.

    Sticking within series boundaries, Puzzler World 2013 makes no false pretense about its line-up of logic, word, visual and math puzzle offerings. Measuring cylinders are used to track overall progress, with the one on the left of the Puzzle Menu pertaining to your cumulative results while the one on the right is for specific categories, changing with each new puzzle icon you tap. Every step of the way, achievements are used rather generously to spur you on, with markers as low as completing 10% of all entries in a category being celebrated. Formula-wise, it is very much the same as always, save for a few minor changes and additions. And being that it is distances apart from being a no-frills collection, that isn't a bad thing.

    Completing one of the many brain teasers will lead you directly into a bonus activity that won't be anything new for repeat players, which may involve a game of Hangman, inserting operations for fill-in-the-blanks equations, deciphering anagrams, identifying the correct missing piece in a puzzle, or engaging in a more advanced, logic-based version of Silhouette. Yet another event follows these bite-sized challenges, which primarily has the goal of earning Hint Coins. As opposed to spinning a wheel as you would on a game show, players now spin slots on a Fruit Machine to earn rewards. The luck factor still remains, it's just the direction that has experienced some changes.

    Clearing a bonus puzzle allows for an Auto Free Spin, in which the wheels will keep turning until you've encountered (not necessarily matched) three of one symbol type. All other spins that follow will be subject to your supply of Hint Coins, with Hold Buttons becoming available after a few tries. Making it a less cut-and-dry affair is that some symbols have numbers attached to them, representing how many letters in the word "Puzzler" will light up. Having all seven lit will trigger another activity on the machine that's a brief yet fun diversion from the proceedings. Just in these areas alone, Puzzler World 2013 continues the tradition adequately with this small helping of tweaks and add-ons, meaningless though they might seem at first.

    Back to the formula's core: 560 puzzles are available in the default selection, colour-coded according to whichever of the 17 categories they fall under, with additional sets to be explored through Master Mode. Puzzle types include classic groupings of Sudoku, crosswords, spot the difference puzzles and word searches, as well as such Puzzler World favourites as the number-oriented Link-a-Pix and the crossword alternative, Backwords. Then there are new options in the way of Loko, a trial-and-error affair where a series of a circles on a grid must connect into one circuit; Maze-a-Pix, where you have to get from one end to the other while passing through the correct colour gates; Sum People, a process-of-elimination activity where you must deduce the individual value of each character used on a table; and Takegaki, where you add lines to create an outline on a grid, using numbers as guides for how many can be adjacent to a box. 

Still others are familiar takes on existing puzzle types but with a different objective. Pathfinder is a maze-like, Wordsearch alternative where all letters are to be used, using one letter as your starting point and moving to the next sets of letters with your word list as a reference. Number Jig, a play style alternative to Fitword, sees you inserting numerical values into a blank crossword setup, while Codeword (a returning category) uses a similar setup but involves determining which letters belong to sets of individual and repeating numbers. One of my personal favourites is Splitwords, which segments words belonging to a specific theme into small chunks to be re-arranged via a slider system. All in all, the variety is certainly felt and while not every one of the new endeavours will strike your fancy, fans of the series will likely find themselves attracted to at least one.

    Admittedly, some of these very efforts are intimidating the first go-round. Link-a-Pix, for example, is one standard activity that's long been a part of the series, yet the process may initially be a puzzle in itself. For existing fans, the same can be said of Takegaki, which is arguably the most confusing of the bunch -- it's the only one I can't make good sense of. It doesn't help that the explanations provided aren't always concise, and rather than you closing out of an explanation feeling like you have a clear grasp on things, sometimes you feel dizzy trying to work things out in your head with no direct reference material. And in that sense, the game does disappoint. That being said, most puzzle groups come together, with players becoming more and more instinctive about placements and such. What is more, hesitant participants will gravitate to the less challenging efforts, and the likes of such puzzle types as Silhouette do balance things out nicely. Conversely, those desiring to attack more demanding puzzles will be pleased with the progressive increases in difficulty and can thus pick out those further down the list to tackle.

Puzzler World 2013 maintains a user-friendly setup in its interface design, and part of this has to do with the system being held as-is, rather than the sideways position that's been adopted in earlier handheld entries. More to the point, it's supported by identifiable icons, good-sized buttons, as well as consistent rules and handy tools, all of which are used to minimize wording and ensure actions remain intuitive. There are some features that I feel are missing in select places, though. Being able to use the note tool would've been helpful in Sum People puzzles, while puzzles of the Spot the Difference class have no penalty system in place to prevent someone from tapping assorted areas aimlessly.

    3D use causes some menu elements and symbols to pop out, but nothing really purposeful stems from this. While the text often seen within puzzle spaces is plain by comparison (a decision I've never quite understood), bubbly shapes help contribute to an atmosphere that is both wide-ranged and considerate in its colour choices and illustrative touches. As a unit, the entire system reacts quickly to your selections, and that's pleasing in itself.

    Music heard during bonus activities isn't all that suspenseful, instead marked by a rather ordinary track that doesn't make you feel the pressure of the countdown clock weighing on you. I suppose it's better than complete silence, though, which is actually the case during gameplay. The handwriting recognition is generally up to par, with the exception of the odd letter input (e.g., an "O" mistakenly thought to be a "D"), and I also found a typo in the Hint Menu of one of the puzzle types. But seeing as the series has come into its own, it's not a surprise in the slightest that no errors of serious concern have been made.

    Conventional though it may be, Puzzler World 2013 understands when not to mess with a good thing, instead allowing room for some new elements to trickle in while still supporting the well-balanced standards of the collection as a whole. Puzzles are definitely my element, and if you can relate to that feeling but have yet to join in the fun, Puzzler World 2013 will certainly satisfy through its variety. Does this entry go to the extent of transforming the series into a craze? No. But given how good of a job its applied formula does in driving players towards completing blocks of puzzles at a given time, it can be said that Puzzler World 2013 is a consistent and well-rounded package, one that effectively rides on both familiar and unique puzzle offerings to make for something of a right-minded fix.

24/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Just enough new to balance out returning activities, confusing tutorials, responsive system, features make for an encouraging formula
Presentation 7/10 - Intuitive and user-friendly interface, use of audio could be better, little purpose served by 3D, nice overall organization and look
Enjoyment 4/5 - Variety is its greatest strength, accessible for all, most of the new puzzles are worthwhile, helped by bonuses and the new slot machine
Extra Content 5/5 - Achievements and progress markers provide motivation, loads of puzzles on-hand, further challenges to be sought in Master Mode

Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Puzzler World 2013
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