previews\ Jun 9, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Puzzilings - MB - Preview

These days, every game developer is pondering the need for character development. Do gamers really want that? Some evidence suggests that they do, though gameplay always reigns supreme in the eyes of just about everybody (even casual players).

Puzzlings is a puzzle game/character customization hybrid – developed for iPhone and iPod Touch – where you solve puzzles to unlock new clothing/hats/etc. for your Puzzling character.

For me, the idea of playing dress-up isn’t that exciting. That part is geared toward women and children. But the gameplay? Wow!

At first glance, it seems like a puzzler in the style of Tetris Attack and Bejeweled. There’s little doubt that the developers were inspired by those games. Each block has a different color and a different character shape inside. Line up three or more of the same blocks to make them disappear. Doing so causes the next set of blocks to drop onto the screen, perpetuating the puzzle-solving madness until the time runs out. (Not surprisingly, the time limit can be extended by playing well.)

Through that inspiration, the developers decided to take the gameplay a few steps further with the ability to manipulate every block simultaneously. Forget the horizontal, two-block reversals of older puzzle games. That worked in the ‘90s but it’s a bit primitive by today’s standards.

In Puzzlings, you reverse blocks (up to six in a row) by touching the screen and dragging your finger. This forms a white box – a rectangle in this case – across the blocks that are about to be reversed.

Now suppose you want to flip two rows of blocks. Instead of dragging your finger horizontally, drag it up or down the screen. As you’ll quickly notice, a white square has been formed. This square can encompass as few as four blocks or as many as the entire 6x6 playing field. Lift your finger and the blocks start to rotate – tap the screen to make it stop.

This alone made Puzzlings a clever game, but the developers didn’t stop there. They’ve also added larger blocks that take up the space of four normal-sized blocks. Plus, you’ll encounter circle pieces (broken up into four wedges) that cannot be eliminated until they are pieced together as one large circle.

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