• Graphics
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatCommodore Plus/4
ReviewJason and Mark

Main review

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.


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.

Second opinion

Sometimes the most simple concepts are really appealing. Case in point: those simple tile shuffling games where you firstly scramble the tiles, then aim to rearrange them into the correct order. This is basically what we have here virtualised in Simple Puzzle Game. I used to play a numbered 4×4 one of these fondly as a child, so I wasn’t scared of the apparent simplicity of this game.

Before you begin the game gives a choice of three different tile-sets to use. None would appear to be any more difficult than the other and it’s always the same task of rearranging a 3×3 tile grid no matter what the identifying marks on the tiles are. Upon starting a game and within the first few moves I noticed that something didn’t feel quite right with the controls. I quickly realised that the method of sliding the tiles was inverted compared to the real world. On one of these physical puzzles you would slide a tile into the free space, in this version you slide the space around instead. While this felt unusual to me at first I soon got used to it.

Visually the game is average at best with the only real interest being in the third tile set’s picture. And sonically we have nothing. It’s also a pity that on completion of any of the screens there were no fireworks, champagne or even a little “well done” text, but that’s life – there was none. The fact is that this game is a simple game, it’s honest about it and tells you that. It performs adequately for what it is during the five minutes in your life that you do play it. It’s not going to be particularly memorable, it’s not gong to be very challenging but you could kill five minutes in less amusing ways.