Not Just Another Puzzle Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 22nd, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Not Just Another Puzzle is an interesting and highly challenging puzzle app with multiple elements that create an experience unlike other puzzle apps seen in iTunes.

This app consists of 50 puzzles broken up into varied degrees of difficulty, but make no mistake about it, even the “toddler” puzzles may be difficult for some adults.

The backgrounds used here for the most part are wonderful photographs of mundane objects used to create fascinating puzzle surfaces, such as double chocolate-nut cookies, a carton of eggs, or colored pencils for a great effect. Other times graphic art is used to create an interesting backdrop.

Areas of these puzzles can be seen where these images are grayed out so that pieces can be added to the correct places within. Sometimes half the photograph may be empty; other times just a few spaces will be open.

The game-play itself consist of many puzzle elements that fans may be familiar with, yet not traditionally seen together in one application. Part slider game where pieces may need to be moved to gain access to or to fit other pieces into their correct slots, maze elements are often found as well, many times with moving details one must contend with, including hidden passageways that players must seek out, moving pieces accordingly.

A player also must rotate these pieces, yet by far the most challenging aspect of this app is the physics engine and gravity used - much more sensitive than the gravity found on earth, making it very difficult to simply pick up a single piece without it spinning around in circles, making placement difficult.

The pieces found here are block form, either as single squares or larger rectangles of two or three pieces that are picked up with the drag of a finger and placed in their correct location. I do wish a “click” sound effect could be heard when correct pieces have been placed - a satisfying detail found in other puzzle apps.

Even when simply sliding a piece into an area straight down between red markings that create the maze-like areas one is working on, the weightlessness of these pieces combined with the out-of-control gravity and rotation make lining up these pieces within the puzzle holes in question very difficult, as players may find for themselves

The level of difficulty is quite high and may not be the taste of casual puzzle users, but die-hard puzzle enthusiasts will be quite pleased with this application.

The music included within is uniformly relaxing, but I would like a chance to choose my own background piece as I work on these puzzles as some are more to my liking than other selections, especially one favorite piece reminiscent of Brian Eno’s ambient music.

I do take issue with the labeling of the first level of puzzles as “toddler” as the combined elements of rotation, gravity and other details make for puzzles that are at the comfort level of many adults. The idea of these puzzles being for toddlers shows a gross lack of awareness of the abilities of this age group, and adults looking at screen shots in iTunes for this app and seeing the section marked “toddler” may be disappointed that this app is in no way meant for their child. Older middle school-aged kids and teens who may really enjoy this app could also be put off by working on puzzles designed for toddlers. I would rather see this mode be marked as “beginner” instead.

In the future, I would love to see some options included such as the turning off of the rotation or gravity, making these puzzles more accessible to younger players. I have enjoyed the level of difficulty in the first few sections, but it would be nice not to feel shut out of enjoying this app completely due to my lack of ability and patience to work on these more difficult sections.

An option for a slight sense of “grab” found in other puzzle apps when the correct space draws the corresponding puzzle piece, as if by magnetism, would also be a nice inclusion, making these puzzles friendlier for young children.

It is also a disappointment to me that when a puzzle is completed, this app does not acknowledge the player's hard work in any way, disconcerting as one is left looking for any mistakes that may have made, even if no mistakes are present.

I hope in the future this app will include some sort of conclusion when a puzzle has been completed, and I wish it were easer to get back to the main menu to choose another puzzle to work on or new level of difficulty.

Even without changes made to this application, those who are puzzle enthusiasts - be they older children or adults - will really enjoy this app, and it is nice that this app gets updated regularly with more puzzles.

All-in-all, a very challenging experience that includes quality images and use of music.

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

Not Just Another Puzzle screenshot 1 Not Just Another Puzzle screenshot 2 Not Just Another Puzzle screenshot 3 Not Just Another Puzzle screenshot 4
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