What are our brains for if we don’t use them? Video games are often associated with “vegging out”, an insult to vegetables everywhere, but today belongs to a genre that’s meant to exercise that soggy, salty bit of gray matter upstairs: the Puzzle genre. Conundrums, riddlers, brainteasers, puzzle games are all about solving limited problems with easy rules and easy controls. These games will put your problem solving skills to the test and stretch your ability to reason, use logic, recognize patterns or sequences, or make leaps of intuition. Impress your friends! Be the talk of the party! Play more puzzle games for a smarter gaming community!
Here are the enigmas of our partiality. *pushes up glasses*
The Green Screen Mage
Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle was my white whale. It took me years to beat this game. I recently came across a stickynote I had full of all of the codes for the different levels as you beat them. I was in so deep, collecting carrots, avoiding Will E. Coyote, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck…. I wonder if I still have it?
The Black Humor Mage
There’s a lot of fun puzzle games, but the Puyo Puyo series is the one that gets me most excited. I was introduced to this game through family friends. These three siblings live in Mexico, and staying with them is always awesome. Their dad is Mexican and they’re mom is Japanese, so they were into a lot of cool video games I never even heard of. They all had a version of Puyo Puyo for each of their DS’s, so it was like competitive Tetris. Puyo Puyo games are quirky and have really good music. I’ve emulated the games a few times, but with the new Puyo Puyo Tetris game out for Switch and PS4, it’s definitely one I want to pick up.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Peggle. Ok so very recently Peggle grabbed me by the manhood and would straight up not let go until I finished the story mode in its entirety. This is the Xbox version and I do think it makes a difference because I tried on phone and it wasn’t the same amazing experience as on console. I started playing it to try and find something my wife might play with me, the whole weekend later, yeppppp that’s a good game. (Honorable Mentions – Portal, Pokémon Puzzle League, Tetris)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Dr. Mario taught me all about the pharmaceutical industry and how to cure my illnesses using bi-colored pills. It also has really catchy music.
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (Master System). My Tetris variant of choice…I’m a SEGA kid, remember? It’s the western version of Puyo Puyo with characters from the Sonic cartoon of the time (but no Sonic). It’s colourful and addictive, yet difficult too. There probably isn’t much between this and other puzzle games I’ve played, but I like Mean Bean Machine’s personality and bouncy tune so that’s my choice.
The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)
On the eve of the annual Moon Festival, the moon is nowhere to be found! It is up to Cookie & Cream to set off on an adventure of epic proportions. This game has it all, dynamic puzzles, 2 player co-op, a quirky unique story, epic boss fights, & free for all multiplayer cherry on top. This game originally for the PS2 captures the imagination & in 2007 was ported over to the Nintendo DS,with 9 bonus mini games so if you have a change give Cookie & Cream a spin.
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
My favorite by far was a little Game Boy puzzle shooter called Quarth, which I can only describe as Tetris crossed with Space Invaders. Blocks descend at a steady pace from above, and it’s Game Over the moment they hit the bottom of the screen (where your trusty little avatar is stationed.) You would shoot blocks at these pieces to form a complete square or rectangle, which would halt the advancing blocks and also clear away the ones you formed the shape with. For such a simple concept, it got challenging in the later stages as the speed of the falling blocks increased, and the patterns that showed up were much less forgiving about bad accuracy- you could just as easily kill yourself by misplacing enough shots that they stacked up beyond your boundaries. The music was great, too, particularly the track that played on the final stage of a level. It’s a nice puzzle game to come back to every so often, and it was only recently that I managed to beat it without level select. I always hoped there’d be a modern release someday.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
Portal (2007). Puzzle games were definitely not my thing growing up. Personally, I much preferred Mario and platformers of that nature. However, the Portal series definitely stole the show as far as puzzles go. I will never forget the first time I used my momentum from falling from the ceiling to propel me horizontally across the room. It was simply mind-blowing to put myself in a world where those physics were actually possible. I vote for the original Portal, because although Portal 2 absolutely robbed the crown from the first installment with the far improved narrative element, the first one got the world into thinking about puzzle games upside down. It definitely stirred the puzzle game pot!
The Rage Mage
We all know the N64 was a failure. Games like Wheel of Fortune are just the letters on its tombstone. “I’d like to buy a vowel: Hatred!”
The Well-Red Mage
This one is an easy pick for me, finally! The only puzzle game I got hooked on harder than Tetris has got to be Katamari Damacy. Labeled as a puzzle-action game, this bizarre Japanese delight involves rolling a giant katamari ball and sticking things to it: toys, cars, people, buildings, until it grows to massive proportions and your dad (who just so happens to be the King of All Cosmos) can turn it into a star. Yeah, that’s pretty dark the more you think about it but the game is more whimsical, quirky, hilarious, and stupid than you might expect. There’s an incredibly complex sense of physics there, too. The first game had that magical sense of surprise before sequelitis set in and the series became a set of running gags. I say that Katamari Damacy is a game which every gamer needs to play at least once.
Thanks for teasing your brains with us, NPCs! Next… you know those people who have no rhythm, like they can’t clap on a beat to save their lives? If that’s you, don’t come back for the Challenge tomorrow. Take your T-rex arms somewhere else.
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