Puzzle games have been around since the days of Tetris, but they’ve undergone many changes and revisions in the days since. Here are some modern examples of five of the best types of puzzle games available today:
Brainteaser and Riddle: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (DS)
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is still waiting for a US release, but fans of past Professor Layton games are watching its every move. The Professor Layton presents players with sliding puzzles, riddles, brainteasers, and other types of puzzles to advance the plot. Named for its extraordinarily difficult final sliding puzzle, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box puzzled players last year as the most recent installment of the series to be released in the US. Professor Layton continues to challenge players in The Unwound Future with a huge variety of different types of brainteaser-style puzzles. The variety and difficulty of puzzles in Professor Layton is probably its most notable feature, and the reason why it’s the leader in the Brainteaser and Riddle group.
Puzzle Battle: Puzzle Quest 2 (DS)
Puzzle Quest was a hit with matching puzzle fans when it was first released in 2007. Taking Bejeweled-style game mechanics, Puzzle Quest made players take turns with an enemy to match up symbols of like colors to earn Mana, with the addition of skull-shaped symbols to deal damage to the opponent. Adding up quantities of Mana would allow the player to perform spells for extra effects. Puzzle Quest 2, released this year for the Nintendo DS, brought RPG elements to the classic Puzzle Battle genre. Players are pit against each other or computer-controlled enemies, and earn experience and gold for each victory. The mesh of RPG and Puzzle Game elements is what makes Puzzle Quest 2 my choice for best modern Puzzle Battle game.
Game Mechanic: LIMBO (X360)
LIMBO recently came out for Xbox 360 Arcade. Set in a black-and-white dismal world of purgatory, LIMBO is a highly acclaimed platformer according to popular game review websites. However, LIMBO doesn’t include classic sliding puzzles or color-and-shape-matching battles like other puzzle games. Puzzles are simply part of its gameplay. As the player navigates the world of LIMBO, they are forced to solve many environmental puzzles and jump, push, and swing their way through each level. The complexity and grace with which LIMBO creates its puzzling environment is what gives it the edge in the Game Mechanic group.
Crossword and Number: Picross 3D (DS)
Picross 3D provides players with a huge repertoire of number-based puzzles to complete for their pleasure on the Nintendo DS. A complex blend of classic crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, and the much-loved classic Minesweeper, the original Picross on the DS gave players the perfect outlet for their puzzle hunger. Picross 3D takes the Picross formula to the next level, revealing pictures and objects as players work their way through numbered blocks. Numbers are the key to figuring out which blocks to eliminate to reveal the 3D image, but it doesn’t take an innate knowledge of math to be able to solve a Picross puzzle. The in-depth tutorial provided at the beginning of the game insures that no player goes unprepared for the hundreds of puzzles that await them. The huge variety of puzzles and deep gameplay mechanics are what make Picross 3D the best Crossword and Number game.
Physics-Based: Portal 2 (X360)
Portal 2 has been set for release in far-off 2011, but the original Portal made its mark on players long ago. Portal gave players control over the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, better known as the portal gun, which allowed players to bend space through the mechanic of a pair of portals which lead to and from each other and can be applied to special surfaces. Allowing players to traverse vast amounts of space in a single step, shoot through rooms using the momentum of a long fall, and (a fan favorite) fall for all eternity through a room’s ceiling, the portal gun is the key mechanic in solving the physics-based puzzles the games present the player with via a series of “test chambers.” Portal’s massive library of entertaining physics puzzles and its dark sense of humor are what makes it the best Physics-Based puzzle game.
Well, there you have it: Five of the best varieties of puzzle games out there. With 3D technology at the forefront of new game development, puzzle games are sure to only advance in the future. If you keep your eye on the industry, it may just revolutionize itself before your very eyes.