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PSP Review: Puzzle Scape

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I am a hard-core puzzle gamer. My husband wanted me to enter Bust-A-Move tournaments. If it has bricks to connect or bubbles to burst, I am all over it. The only games I play other than these puzzle games are Pokemon and World of Warcraft (then again, everyone plays WoW). Any time a new puzzle game is released, I buy it without hesitation.

Puzzle Scape for PSP is very similar to Nintendo's Meteos. Multi-colored blocks drop from the top. The two-square cursor allows you to switch blocks horizontally but, like Meteos you cannot flip vertically. You must arrange the blocks in 2×2 squares in order to eliminate them. Any blocks of the same color that are connected to that 2×2 clump are also eliminated. As with most puzzle games, there are two types of games: endless, and mission-based. There are also levels and bonuses to be unlocked, and a multiplayer variation.

This game, while not innovative, is challenging. It is more about speed than planning. I had a hard time adjusting to the notion of arranging blocks into squares rather than lines, but once I got the hang of it, I got pretty involved. The competitive side of me came out, and before I knew it, a half-hour had gone by with me trying to unlock levels. I find that the more I play Puzzle Scape the more addictive it becomes.

Like Lumines, Puzzle Scape is geared, in look and sound, to teenagers. The music sounds like a club mix tape. More annoying are the moving, psychedelic backgrounds that look like music visualizers. Some of them were so dizzying I had to stop playing those levels after mere seconds. PSP does not have many puzzle games. I am guessing because the majority of PSP users prefer games like Tony Hawk and Grand Theft Auto – there isn't much of a market for puzzle games on that platform (unlike Nintendo DS, which seems to be aimed towards adults and youngish children).

I also find the controls on Puzzle Scape to be a bit tough. The point of the game is to move fast and beat the clock. If you hold down D Button (the thumbstick isn't active for this game), it will slide the cursor quickly across the playing field – too quickly. I often go too far and have to backtrack. I find it more precise – though not as swift – to tap the D Button quickly, once for each space to move. The R and L buttons store bonus moves which works well. Each are easy to access quickly, and without struggle or confusion.

This game fluctuates between addicting and maddening. Ultimately, I don't see Puzzle Scape as having the same lasting addiction as Tetris or Bust-A-Move.

Puzzle Scape is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

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