Sunday, June 04, 2017

Anyone looking for a few #PuzzleGameMonth recommendations?

Although platformers and RPGs continue to be my favorite types of games, I'm pretty much always up for playing a good puzzler.

The five brain-busters below fit that bill and more. As such, I think any one of them would be worth playing as part of Anne Lee's latest "community game-along" that's devoted to the puzzle genre. (For more information on this month-long event, go to

I've spent a good amount of time with all of these games, by the way, so rest assured they have my personal seal of approval (should such a thing hold sway over you, of course).

Moai-kun (Famicom)
Guru Logi Champ (GameBoy Advance)--I've mentioned this Compile-made title a couple of times in the past. (Most notably, in my recent post about overlooked GameBoy Advance games you need to play as soon as possible.) To be honest, though, I feel like I should've written about it more, as it's easily one of the best puzzlers to be published for Nintendo's GameBoy successor. What's so great about it? For starters, it offers up a unique twist on Picross' gameplay. Also, it's wonderfully colorful and features a cast of characters that's as cute as it is silly. The cherry on top of all this puzzling goodness: Guru Logi Champ's box, cartridge label and instruction manual knock it out of the park, too.

Loopop Cube: Lup Salad (PlayStation)--Although Guru Logi Champ is at least somewhat of a known quantity thanks to its Compile connection, this similarly impressive PlayStation release from Datam Polystar continues to fly under the radar. Not that Loopop Cube and the above-mentioned GBA game are at all alike. This Japan-only title combines light platforming action with the gameplay of a match-three puzzler. Add to that its cute-as-a-button aesthetic (mirrored in Loopop Cube's packaging) and some catchy background tunes, and you've got an import that should have a much higher profile than it currently does. By the way, if you're not in the mood for buying and playing Japanese PSone games, you can pick up Loopop Cube: Lup Salad for the DS or PSP, too.

Magical Puzzle Popils (Game Gear)--Of all the puzzle games showcased here, this Tengen-developed and -published one is my favorite. Like Loopop Cube, Magical Puzzle Popils (released outside Japan as Popils: The Blockbusting Challenge) is one part platformer and one part puzzler. You don't match blocks in the latter, though; instead, you do whatever's needed to get the "hero" protagonist to the princess who's marooned somewhere on each and every stage. Usually that means punching or kicking blocks out of your way, but sometimes it also means climbing or descending a ladder. Don't worry, it's a lot more fun than I've made it sound here. Plus, it looks great--similar to Bubble Bobble, actually, which makes sense, as the same man (Fukio Mitsuji) headed up both games--and sports a stellar, earworm-worthy soundtrack. (Bonus: virtually flip through Magical Puzzle Popil's instruction manual.)

Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke (PSP)
Moai-kun (Famicom)--I know, I know. I just slobbered over this Konami cart in my most recent "Manual Stimulation" post. What can I say? I've got Moai-kun on the brain. Also, if any Famicom puzzler is worth mentioning in a write-up such as this, Moai-kun is it. This Japan-only release from 1990 isn't the prettiest puzzle game to see the light of day on Nintendo's first real console, but I'd argue it's the most interesting. Once again, the focus here is on hopping to and from platforms, destroying blocks (using your noggin, à la PC Genjin) and rescuing loved ones. Don't worry if you'd like to try Loopop Cube, Magical Puzzle Popils and Moai-kun, by the way. Although all three are puzzler-platformers, they provide different enough experiences that you won't feel like you're playing the same game.

Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke (PSP)--I'd include this PSP title, made by Silicon Studio and published (only in Japan, naturally) by From Software, even if it were a total dud. That's because its cover illustration, right, is among the best produced for Sony's first portable system. Also, its Ukiyo-e art style is beyond gorgeous. Thankfully, Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke's gameplay is just as captivating as its more superficial components. Explaining why that is would take too many words, so I'm going to suggest you check out if you're curious to know more. Just know that if you've still got a PSP and you're at all into games that try their best to overheat your brain, you'll get your money's worth out of Onore no Shinzuru Michi wo Yuke.

See also: my trio of #PlatforMonth recommendation posts

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