PSP Fanboy review: Go! Puzzle
Go! Puzzle is an excellent addition to the PLAYSTATION Store and best exemplifies the kind of content we'd like to see through digital distribution in the future. Although the game is a direct port of a PS3 title, the pick-up-and-play puzzle gameplay of Go! Puzzle is a much more obvious fit with the handheld. At $5.99 for three puzzle games, Go! Puzzle is an excellent value.
When launcing Go! Puzzle off of the Memory Stick, players are greeted to a menu where they must select one of the three games available. Each game has its own menu and interface, making each game feel rather distinct from the other.
The objective of Swizzle Blocks is to create 2x4 squares of the same color. Any similarly colored block touching the initial square will then be chained and removed from the board. Clear all the blocks off the screen, and the player advances to the next level.
Chaining results in a spectacular display of explosions. However, we'd have to say this is the weakest game of the bunch. It's not very compelling, and in the easier difficulty, puzzles will literally solve themselves. The UI is also awkward. Unlike XBLA's Hexic, for example, the cursor doesn't hover around the tiles you are trying to rotate. Rather, the cursor is in the center, which is definitely much less intuitive. Also, unlike Hexic, there's no added depth than creating simple 2x2 squares. The fact that blocks aren't pushed into each other after clearing nullifies combo opportunities -- and for many puzzle games, that's a large part of the fun.
The objective of Aquatica is to survive a constant stream of falling bricks (in typical Tetris fashion). Like in Dr. Mario, players can create chains of similarly colored blocks to clear the board. Three blocks must connect, from any diagonal or vertical direction. It's a very simple, and rather uninspired, premise that does an adequate job of providing puzzle fun.
Occasionally, a rainbow colored block will fall, and if connected to a chain of two, it will destroy all blocks of the same color on the board (similar to Puzzle Fighter). This will come as the saving grace for players desperately trying to reduce their ever-rising stack of colored bricks. Unlike Swizzle Blocks, there is a constant opportunity to perform combos, although the reward is rather unsubstantial.
The last game in the Go! Puzzle collection is easily the game's best -- and most original. This lovable game will stand out as the main reason to purchase this downloadable title. The premise sounds simple, but there are some nice additions to the gameplay that make it the most compelling title of the bunch. Players must walk from one side of the board, to the other. When players step on a block, they must complete their journey on that color only. There is a jump option to skip a block, but players must make the right decision from the get-go.
They will journey up a skyscraper for each level they clear, but there is a limited amount of time to get to the top. In order to replenish the time, players must clear the entire board of a single color. For example, if a player starts on a red block, they must somehow manage to walk on every red block on that level in order to get a time bonus. There are limitations that players must account for: blocks that were stepped on once cannot be stepped on again, and certain blocks will move, or teleport, the player in a direction they may not have anticipated.
The progression of the game is absolutely perfect, as it introduces new elements in a staggered manner. Players aren't forced to perfection, but those that manage to do a perfect run will be rewarded with more stages at the game's end.
If the single player adventure wasn't plenty enough (and trust us, it is), there's also an excellent multiplayer mode, with Game Sharing. In fact, all of the games within the Go! Puzzle collection include this feature. It's a wonderful addition, as it allows you to play against another PSP owner who might not have a copy of the game. Skyscraper is definitely the most worthwhile multiplayer game of the bunch, thanks to its addition of weapons. Players can pick up power-ups during their journey upward and use them against the other player. They can freeze the player, or change their blocks, or add dangerous wind that makes jumping lethal. We can see competitions become quite heated in this mode.
It's true that not every game in the Go! Puzzle line-up is an inspired winner. In fact, only Skyscraper can really attest to that title. But, it's not like the other two games are particularly bad. Go! Puzzle offers an extensive amount of content at a price that's just right. Not only that, but it takes up only 50MB on your Memory Stick, ensuring you won't ever have to delete it to free up space on your PSP. With Game Sharing, and the highly addictive Skyscraper, we can easily recommend Go! Puzzle. If you're a fan of the PLAYSTATION Store, this is a must-download.
PSP Fanboy score: 7.0