Developer: Dico / BottleCube
Publisher: Rainy Frog
Release Date: 5 April 2018
Price: $9.99 / £7.99
Reviewed by Antonio Guillen
My family has a habit of collectively conquering a jigsaw every Christmas. We start with a mountain of pieces and challenge ourselves to bring order to the chaos as quickly as possible.
I’ve played virtual versions of plenty of card and board games but I never considered that this particular low-tech activity was possible to translate. Animated Jigsaws: Beautiful Japanese Scenery makes a decent attempt to introduce gamers to the joy of jigsaw, but ultimately stumbles.
Find the Corners
I approached intrigued, questioning how the game’s controls could possibly allow for the nuanced movement necessary to sort and slide hundreds of pieces into place with precision. Thankfully, movement is incredibly intuitive and responsive. Pieces connect with a satisfying snap when placed in the correct position. Although you can’t adjust your sensitivity the pieces slide quickly enough at the default pace, and you can hold a button to shift to a rapid speed when needed.
On top of that the ‘group’ button mimics the common jigsaw strategy of separating border pieces from the rest for you automatically. Jigsaw purists may scoff at the simplicity but I found the feature incredibly convenient.
The puzzles themselves are the other highlight. The game takes advantage of the digital medium in that each puzzle features a dynamic image. Imagine a short GIF endlessly looping in real time. Seeing the animation playing across the scattered pieces is mesmerising, and surprisingly doesn’t distract or hinder your progress.
Puzzling lack of content
The scenes themselves are beautiful, but disappointingly there are only 10 all together. Once you complete the simplest variation of a scene, you unlock the next tier of difficulty. For instance, a puzzle may start out at 60 pieces and then offer up a greater challenge with a 120 piece version.
Unfortunately, this lack of variety extends to the music selection too. You’re given only three tracks to choose from, and although they help set a relaxing mood, there is a noticeable loop to each and they quickly get maddeningly repetitive.
Aside from giving you the option for up to 4 players to solve puzzles cooperatively there are few bells and whistles. You can swap between three colored backgrounds to build your puzzles on, and you can click to view the sample ‘master’ image to help sort out where pieces belong.
The game keeps a running time to complete, but offers no rewards or incentive for quickly assembling puzzles. It would have been nice to be able to zoom in and out at will to get a better look at the sample canvas and the increasingly small pieces, but again, no option to change your viewpoint exists.
Animated Jigsaws: Beautiful Japanese Scenery does a decent job at translating jigsaw play to the virtual game space, but doesn’t offer much more than decent controls to keep you busy for very long.
Pros & Cons
+ Precise controls
+ Local co-op
- Only 10 puzzles
- Only a handful of repetitive background tracks
- No incentives for skilled play