Tuesday, February 20

Review: Puzzle Puppers [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the genres more quietly represented very well on the Switch thus far is puzzle games. With degrees of challenge from the ultra-casual to the downright hardcore (looking at you, Death Squared) there’s a little something for everyone available. What we haven’t had yet though is an example of a puzzle game that is ultra-cute and yet still will make you work damned hard to get your hearts and move to the next level. That’s all been changed now with the release of Puzzle Puppers.

You have a job to do, and that’s to guide your pup through a grid-based level to collect hams (each one giving you a heart) and then end up at their color-coded food bowl without being blocked by another pup. Sounds cute and easy, right? Once you get through the first 20 of 80 levels check back in and we’ll see if you still think it’s lacking in challenge. Using a combination of multiple pups, holes that move you around the board, and tricky conveyor belts you’ll be forced to twist, turn, and plot your way around the board. While getting each pup to their bowl isn’t always a complicated feat you’ll only unlock special levels when you get all 3 hams on each level in a group… and to get them all will continue to take more skill. Conveyor belts, in particular, end up creating an order of operations problem, requiring both certain pups to make their moves in sequence and even partial moves that will block to get a pup in the right spot before backing away to make another move. It’s not a revolution but it can be clever and it undoubtedly cute.

In general the game is best played in touchscreen mode, though you can opt to guide your pups with the controller as well so you can play it in docked mode. You’ll need to fumble in the dark a little bit at first to be sure you understand what few controls are necessary with the controller as there aren’t any prompts, though they are pretty intuitive using 2 buttons to advance and retreat and the shoulder buttons to alternate which dog you’re currently controlling.

If you’re not a puzzle fanatic you can work your way through without getting all of the hearts as you learn the ropes and then return later for the challenge of unlocking the bonus levels so you can see and complete everything. If you consider yourself a world-class puzzle fan see how many you can figure out within a few minutes with no help… somewhere along the way you’ll struggle, but that’s part of the fun. All said this is a title that’s friendly to your pocketbook, full of simple charm, and can probably be enjoyed by just about everyone.

Score: 8

  • A very reasonable price
  • Friendly to puzzle fans of all skill levels
  • Unlocking every level will take some serious work and planning

  • No matter how cute it is, if you find puzzle games stale this likely won’t excite
  • The style of puzzle is familiar, even if the trappings aren’t
  • Required enormous self control to write a review without dog puns

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