Puzzle Monkeys

5 Overall Score
Gameplay: 5/10
Graphics: 3/10
Sound: 7/10

Nice use of the GamePad | Fun music

Few music or background choices | Few game modes | No Multiplayer | Irritating graphics

Game Info

GAME NAME: Puzzle Monkeys

DEVELOPER(S): Log Games

PUBLISHER(S): Log Games

PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U

GENRE(S): puzzle

RELEASE DATE(S): February 5th, 2015

If anyone reading this review had high school in the last ten years or so; remember when you had computers in your class, and when you’d either get free time or felt like annoying the teacher, you’d play some silly online game to pass the time?

Welcome back to high school.

Puzzle Monkeys is the first game to come out of developer Log Games, and if I were still in computer tech class as a freshman in high school, this is the game I’d waste an hour playing instead of practicing keystrokes. Fast-forward 8 years, and we find this on the Wii U eShop.

Puzzle Monkeys appears to have taken ideas from games like Dr. Mario in concept, as the goal of the game is to have 3 or more identical colors on top of a “monkey” to destroy the blocks. This can be done either vertically, horizontally, or -if you’re extremely lucky- diagonally. Controls are simple enough; you have to use the GamePad, as the game’s selling point is touch controls. The description of the controls is a bit ambiguous, however…the controls say to tap colors to destroy blocks of that color, so either out of ignorance or sheer confusion I spent 10 minutes trying to tap the blocks as they fell. The real meaning is to tap the four blocks on the sides of the screen to destroy falling blocks of those colors. This becomes incredibly useful near the end of each round as you start getting more wrong-colored blocks for the few monkeys that remain.

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Blocks drop as a cube of four individual pieces – individual being a nice little feature that I didn’t pick up in my first hour of playing; if you slide half of the block on top of a stack or slide it into a stack, the block can separate to be moved in smaller pieces, nice for the ever-elusive chain combos:

WiiU_screenshot_TV_01A86

There are two simple game modes to Puzzle Monkeys, staring at you the instant you load the game, as there is no actual title screen before the main menu. Mode A is the one pictured above and harkens the most to Panel de Pon and Dr. Mario; take two identical colors, put them on top of the monkey of the same color, monkey dies. Any remaining pieces in the area after the explosion fall, creating possible combo opportunities. If you get a combo of what seemed to be five or more in one move, you get a nice little three-note jingle. It’s the small things like that in this game that make it worth playing longer than 15 minutes per session, unfortunately.

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Mode B is where the game gets weird. Blocks are now single pieces instead of groups of four, and instead of falling straight down, they slide across the top of the screen. Pieces of random colors scroll past at random increments until they reach the left side of the screen, where they then fall to the column below them. You can also tap the colored bricks on the side to make those colors explode and drop pieces immediately to save time. This is actually how I figured out how to use this control option, and it’s almost required to succeed in this mode because the pieces will NOT fall to your favor if you just let them flow without interruption. It’s a sense of challenge in the game that I like, because I still feel in control while being given very few options for movement.

WiiU_screenshot_TV_01A86

Other than these two game modes, there’s nothing else to see in Puzzle Monkeys. The gameplay is simple enough and not terrible once you figure it out. The audio in this game leaves MUCH to be desired, though. You have three choices of music: Song 1 is a slow 8-bit melody that sounds like something that could be the intro to a NES game like Dragon Warrior or Final Fantasy if there was a bit more added to it – needless to say, this is my favorite track. Song 2 is the default track, which is a jazzy upbeat track that gives me memories of the sountrack of Pokemon Puzzle League on N64…except not as good. Song 3 is a syntho-rock’n’roll beat that has the most character to it out of all of the songs, but I found myself turning the sound off and just using my iPod to supply the audio.

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The graphics in this game are what made this game turn from a fun, few hour score-run, to a short burst of about 20 minutes per session. Not because the game is inherently bad, but because this is the first game that I can remember ever giving me eye strain. The high use of primary colors and nothing else, all jumbled up in random arrangements, sometimes covering the whole screen caused me to not be able to focus and see straight. Maybe it’s just me; take a look at this screenshot I took when I reached level 10 and tell me what you think:

WiiU_screenshot_TV_01A86

The Recommendation

In order to continue playing the game for this review, I ended up turning my GamePad brightness to the lowest setting to prevent excess strain. If the colors were slightly varied from the primary RGBY to include other, possibly dimmer colors – or even just not put in such prominence (the big blocks on the side stand out no matter where I look and it causes my eyes to lose focus) – then this wouldn’t be an issue, and the game would be something I could enjoy much more. Puzzle Monkeys is not a bad launch for a new company by any stretch of the imagination. That being said I would see this serving better as a mobile game than a Wii U title. I hope Log Games continues to develop just so they can improve and make some really intriguing indie titles. But as it stands, this game doesn’t have much depth at all, few options, and you can see everything to see in it in about 20 minutes- or when your eyes ask you to stop.

But hey, the game has leaderboards!

WiiU_screenshot_TV_01A86

Take that, mccameron.

Summary

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Author: Mike McSurdy View all posts by
Animal care specialist by day, running around town wearing a Batman costume by night, Mike somehow finds the time to play videogames and write about them. Take years of writing poetry, music, stories, add some experience in making people laugh, and you've got the mess that is me. Hello!