The easiest way for me to describe Puzzlejuice is to say it’s one part Tetris and one part Wordtris, with a dash of chaos mixed in. Both are classic games but imagine playing them simultaneously and you have something that resembles Puzzlejuice. Having spent countless hours playing Tetris since the original Nintendo Gameboy I immediately felt at home. Or so i thought . . . .
Like Tetris you rotate various shaped blocks down to the bottom of the screen forming lines. However, rather than simply disappearing these lines then turn into letters. In addition, any group of three or more similar colored blocks can be “popped” into letters by tapping on them. Once you can spell a word among the letters you drag your finger over them and the word disappears in an explosion, the bigger the word the bigger the explosion. Keep in mind that blocks above are STILL falling as you do this. So you have to manage three things: the falling blocks, their color, and searching for words to spell.
If that’s not enough the game also adds powerups to the equation which are unlocked by completing objectives. There are six powerups you can choose from to be randomly inserted into your game among the falling blocks. For example, a Kabomb explodes taking out every tile around it, a Twister scrambles every block on the screen, and Freeze stops blocks from falling. This adds yet another strategic wrinkle to an already deep game.
If it sounds challenging it is, at first, but once you get “in the zone” it’s hard to put down. I played for nearly two hours straight sitting on the couch watching the Australian Open tennis tournament and I completely lost track of time. It’s been a long time since an iOS game did that to me. The music and graphical style can be almost hypnotic.
A variety of modes are included to keep things interesting. I spent the majority of my time in Hard Mode which is cleverly labeled “as easy as it gets”. Zen Mode gives you 90 seconds to rack up a high score while Euro Extreme Mode only explodes words with five or more letters. There’s even dictionary support to look up the words you create which is helpful if you luck into some words like I do.
The controls aren’t flawless, occasionally I’d accidentally move an object while trying to highlight a word or mistakenly target the wrong the letter, but a game this chaotic deserves a little leeway. Thankfully, you’re usually only one word away from exploding enough blocks to rectify any mistakes. I should mention that this only happened to me on my iPhone as I had no trouble playing on the iPad’s larger screen. There’s a picture-in-picture option you can select to magnify letters making them easier to read on an iPhone where your finger obscures more of the screen.
Puzzlejuice is a fun and creative variation of the classic puzzler. It combines addictive elements of various games and morphs them into something it can call it’s own. Don’t miss it.
Puzzlejuice is a Universal App and is available for $0.99. It also features Game Center support.
Review Score: 9 out of 10
iTunes Link – Puzzlejuice