The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages review
There are games that can exude a great deal of charm but lack in nearly almost every other department. The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages is one of those games. Co-released alongside the superior The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Chaotic Conflicts, Puzzling Pages takes a stab at the puzzle genre, but fails to provide an engaging experience. The game’s charm may be enough to make gamers think there’s a solid game here at first, but rest assured: Puzzling Pages emits some charm, but offers poor controls, overly confusing puzzles, unclear objectives, and frustrating mechanics.
Puzzling Pages revolves around a girl named Pina who receives a mysterious picture book from her friend Kina. This picture book is filled with magic -- both good and bad -- and Pina gladly invites you to look at the picture book with her. Soon you become part of the story, and you must help Pina collect all of the red candy—which she loves—from within the pages of the picture book. This is definitely not the stuff of legends, but it does serve to add a slightly dark and mysterious story that goes along with the game’s art style.
Puzzling Pages features single-screen puzzles where the objective is to collect all of the red candy onscreen for Pina. You use the Wii Remote to toss paper bears onto the screen, and once they land on the open pages of the mysterious book, the paper bears walk toward power-ups and red candy all on their own.
What makes Puzzling Pages so frustrating is not the puzzle design. That aspect is, for all intents and purposes, quite creative, and you’ll wish the game’s poor mechanics didn’t leave so much to be desired. Some levels feature obstacles such as fire or ice traps. You’ll toss a bear onto the book, hoping that it stays put, but it will instead begin making its way toward a terribly placed power-up and end up catching fire or freezing over.
Another issue is the lack of power-ups. Some stages offer up more items than necessary, while other levels only include a few. Due to the game’s trial-and-error setup, you may find yourself having to retry some stages over and over again until you finally get it right. One highly frustrating power-up is the honey ball. Because bears love honey so much, tossing this honey ball onscreen will make your paper bears walk toward it. The problem here lies in the fact that sometimes you have to toss the ball, move it around, and toss it again multiple times just to get your bears moving in the right direction. This quickly becomes a nuisance, and it won’t take long before you begin to hate that ball of honey.
Then there are the game’s not-so-responsive controls. In order to toss bears or power-ups, you must hold either the A or B button on the Wii Remote, tilt it left or right to choose which direction to toss in, and give it a flick. The strength behind your flick of the wrist determines just how far your bears or items will travel. Or at least it’s supposed to. You’ll find yourself tossing your bears too far, not far enough, or off the screen entirely, and you’ll waste more power-ups than you’d like to because the game doesn’t always calculate the strength behind your toss accurately.
To its credit, Puzzling Pages does feature an interesting look that carries a nice deal of charm. The game’s cut-scenes have a cartoon-like yet dark look to them, and their pop-up style is certainly nice to look at. The stages themselves don’t look amazing, but there’s a nice sense of artistry in them. The one big problem here is the lack of variety in the game’s art design. So while it may be above average, it’s all too similar.
Puzzling Pages features a playful soundtrack with chiming themes that are definitely catchy. Unfortunately, you’ll hear the same songs on repeat. There are three songs for the game’s puzzles, and a couple of tracks for the storytelling scenes and menus, but that’s about it. You’ll grow tired of the soundtrack sooner than you do the gameplay.
Puzzling Pages won’t keep you entertained for long, and this is due mainly to its poor design. You can go back to each of the game’s 30+ puzzles and try to earn platinum medals by completing them and wasting as few bears as possible, but you probably won’t want to. The gameplay is so uninviting and lacks so much in terms of quality that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to play this game for more than a handful of hours. Additionally, you can buy decorated paper bears and extra puzzles from the Wii Shop Channel, but after playing the main game, you won’t want to waste more money on this content.
The Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages is a game that can spark a player’s interest with its childish yet dark tones, but don’t let the cover of this book fool you. This is no Alice in Wonderland, and it is certainly no Nightmare Before Christmas. The only reason to purchase the title would be to unlock bonus content in its sister game, Chaotic Conflicts, which is more entertaining than this disappointment. But Wii owners who don’t care about any of that are better off just downloading the other game by itself.