Game: Guru Logi Champ
System: GameBoy Advance
Release date: 2001
If you want to know why I bought a copy of this game, check out its cover art (above). OK, so that wasn't the only reason I picked it up, but it was a rather prominent one. A few others: it was developed by the folks at Compile (makers of Aleste, Gunhead, Puyo Puyo and more) and it has garnered rave reviews over the years. Oh, and it's portable--as is the case with pretty much all of my favorite puzzlers.
So, has it lived up to expectations, despite the fact that I dropped a pretty penny on it? Definitely. That's mainly due to the fact that it differs from just about every other puzzle game I've ever played. If I had to name one it's similar to, I'd go with Picross. Even that isn't the greatest comparison, though, as while the two titles are alike in some ways, they're otherwise quite unique.
For instance, each "stage" in Guru Logi Champ starts with a semi-finished image. The player's job, then, is to complete the image by shooting blocks (from a cannon, using the GBA's A button) up into the play area. That's easier said than done, though, because: 1) you're given just enough blocks to complete a given stage and 2) blocks continue to slide across the play area until they run into another block. The good news: blocks can be sucked back into the aforementioned cannon by pressing the GBA's B button. Also, the play area can be rotated using the system's shoulder buttons.
Anyway, as is often the case with such games, it all begins rather easily before ramping up to a level of difficulty I like to refer to as "brain-breaking." Thankfully, it never crosses the line to "game-breaking"--as in, you get so frustrated you want to yank the cartridge from the system and smash it to smithereens.
In fact, it's nearly always completely enjoyable, due in no small part to Guru Logi Champ's wonderfully silly (and colorful) characters and graphics, which includes (in the game's single-player story mode) a number of hilarious intermissions, and its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink soundtrack, which includes both tropically-inflected and hip-hop-esque tunes.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts