I remember the old days of computer gaming, when games had titles that told you what they were about; Space Invaders, 3D Maze, Revenge of the Mutant Camels (well, you knew roughly what to expect!) and so on... and lets face it, when you're given a game called Simple Puzzle Game to play with you'd expect it to do exactly what it says on the tin. Be simple. And a puzzle game. So it comes as a huge surprise when the game is started and it's a scrolling shoot 'em up! Nah, just kidding it's a simple puzzle game...
The objective for this one is indeed very simple, the player selects one of three pictures (a series of numbered tiles, a page of text announcing this as a party game for the 2006 Mateszalka party and a cartoony picture of a Predator) and, when the game is started, that picture is broken down into nine evenly-sized tiles and the positions are shuffled around. And everybody knows what happens next, of course it's time for the player to step into the breach and un-shuffle the picture back to it's original form! So far, so Ronseal.
What makes this different from the common-or-garden picture shufflers is the way the parts of the picture are moved around; unlike other efforts at this type of game where, in accordance with those plastic toys that hamburger peddlers give away as promotional items to kids only to see them on eBay years later and going for a fortune, the player's cursor isn't a blank space; instead, all of the pieces remain onscreen and the cursor locks onto one of them, the challenge now is to reconstruct the initial image by displacing the other tiles around the play area.
MOVING ON UP
So suddenly Simple Puzzle Game appears to have an unexpected twist in it's tail, and quite a devious one at that because a relatively simple change in the game mechanic makes for a much more interesting (and in some respects difficult) game that it would first appear to be. What is a shame, however, is that seems to be as far as things go. There is no scoring at all, no adrenalin-inducing time limit or move limit to worry about, some quick and quite dirty looking graphical conversions for the three pictures, in fact not even joystick support and, much as I was having a bit of a yearn for simplicity at the start of the review, I can't help thinking that this game feels somewhat... well, as though it isn't quite finished really. Certainly there's no in-game sound at all, a horrendous omission considering the quality threshold on all of the 8-bit machines.
Of course, as we're always pointing out here at Oldschool Gaming, it's not the presentation that is key to a game it's that all-important playability. Simple Puzzle Game is playable in the short term and a good little challenge for a quiet evening, but sadly it won't hold the attention for a long time because there isn't much meat there after the initial couple of goes to keep it truly interesting. In short, worth keeping in the collection but only to dip into for a short burst, not something that will keep you playing obsessively for hour upon hour because there's no scores to chase or times to beat.