|System: Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Infinite Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Zoo Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game also has a few other quirks and bugs that can be a real sore spot from time to time. For one, you have to pay to play each of the mini-games, and if you lose, well, youre out of luck literally. You also cant exit a mini-game or battle once youve started it; theres simply no way to back out other than pressing the Home button on the Wii Remote. Another oddity we experienced was random lock-ups that occurred regularly throughout the game, causing us to not only have to manually shut down the system, but also lose hours of progress in the campaign.
On the production front, Puzzle Kingdoms is a fairly bare-bones package. The visuals are plain, though they get the job done. Wed really like to see Infinite Interactive beef up their presentation a bit. Theyre a development group with seemingly endless ideas for making compelling puzzle gameplay, but they also put fairly little effort into the front end. Its difficult to complain too much about what youll see during combat, since the focus is on matching gems. But the story for this game could have had much more impact if we had some decent animation to accompany the gameplay.
The aural complements on offer here, however, are much more entertaining, and theres little doubt that much of the satisfaction in matching gems comes from the feedback you receive when you align symbols and hear the cries of battle. Whenever one of your units attacks or takes damage, youll hear your party members wail from the Wii Remote (which works surprisingly well), and your enemies can be heard from the right side of your audio system. Gem and attack sounds are equally satisfying, and the music has a very moody, almost cinematic quality that sits perfectly in the background during skirmishes. On the downside, theres no audio or rumble feedback coming from the Wii Remote when you initiate your attack by swiping the controller.
Puzzle Kingdoms from Zoo and Infinite Interactive is, surprisingly, another very interesting match-three puzzle game. The developer seems to have plenty of ideas for how to exploit the design, and we look forward to seeing what they come up with next. That said, this particular game has quite a few nagging issues and bugs that mire down the experience. The variety of gameplay is also a bit meager, even for a $20 budget title. The story may be lengthy, but the process remains mostly the same the whole way through. Its still a good game to veg out to, so long as you dont mind a few rough patches presented on a bare canvas.
CCC Freelance Writer