Friday, 19 April 2013

Q - Quizzical Quickies! My Top 10 Quiz & Puzzle Games

When all the butt-kicking, laser-shooting, spell-casting and tarmac-chewing business gets a little too much, many of us gamers turn to a puzzle game for a bit of light brain exercise and normally end up ageing rapidly in the process. They come in many shapes and sizes, some are single player stuff and others can provide a multi-player bit of mind mashing. While puzzle titles may not receive the exposure or awards that action/arcade games do, some have proved significant in the ongoing development of video games. One in particular. Here is my top 10 of the most puzzling, bamboozling and easily playable Quizzical games. Fingers on buzzers, let's begin.
The Academy Award's new design was not popular
#10 Buzz! (Series) - The quiz show in your own home; this series of Playstation titles was unique in it's presentation and interface making for a fun experience. Designed for multiple players and focused around the basis of the fictitious TV quiz of the same name, each player had a special controller to respond to questions or buzz in with the answer. Over the 18 titles released, each show is slightly different; alternate themes, question rounds etc.. All whilst remaining consistent to the premise. Many an evening has been spent at family meals with a little post-dessert Buzz! time. Enjoyable, amusing in parts and highly interactive. A fine series of games oh yes, until the questions run out of course.

#9 Pipe Mania - Simple but ingenious, this hit the 8-bit home systems with a storm, acquiring many awards in the process. Since then it has been ported and re-made several times on many platforms, sometimes going by the alias Pipe Dream. In the game, you are tasked to connect a pipeline together with a series of sliding tiles, all within a time limit. When the time expires, fluid that is due to flow down the pipe gets released. Becoming frenetic and happily maddening, it's a great one for the reflex's and eye-responses. Cheaper than a real plumber too.

#8 Plotting - Odd little game this, but quite clever and often forgotten about. You control a yellow blob who has the talent of shooting blocks with symbols on. You have to destroy the game board by matching the symbols up together. The twist comes in your skill to bounce the blocks of the walls/roof of the game area, so that they hit the right target. One of the best games on the GX4000 and for my mind, a neat looking puzzler overlooked unfairly thanks to it's big brother Puznic. (Which is not in this list. So there.)

#7 Minesweeper - We all know this one, or at least we should do. Either having chanced upon it whilst bored at work, it may have even been the first game you played on your spanking new Windows 95 PC; Minesweeper continues on with each release of the Microsoft OS, part of the furniture if you will. Mentally challenging, it's a bit of a clandestine morsel that manages to grab your attention almost by accident. If you haven't played it and you have MS Windows - Start/All Programs/Games = Bingo! Don't say I don't do nothing for you.

Mr Top was confident he would win the Chelsea Flower Show
#6 SpinDizzy - Nothing to do with that Egg-fella, this is an isometric gem that has a certain style and poise that is unmistakable. The player controls a spinning top of sorts, and you must guide it through many mazes and stages, at the same time collecting points and solving lift-puzzles. It has plenty in it to keep the brain ticking, but also requires the control expertise of a platform game. Re-made for the Snes as Spindizzy Worlds, it retained the quintessence with a lovely new 16-bit look. 

#5 Columns - SEGA's answer to Nintendo's runaway Gamboy hit (See #1), this colourful gem-dropper was to start and inspire series of similar games, but never quite having the quality this did. Played on any of the SEGA systems of the early nineties, matching those gems in lines seemed so effortless, but my word was it addictive. Many Game Gear batteries died a premature death due to Columns. Oh, and the silly TV receiver thingy. I thank you SEGA fans..

#4 Bejeweled - Clearly influenced by the above title; the graphical likenesses can be seen but the concept is slightly changed. I say slightly, because you are still matching gems in lines, but this time on a game board, swapping the gems around methodically and carefully to achieve the score required by each level. Several variations of this exist including Blitz and Twist, the latter being my personal favourite. Popcap, the creator of Bejeweled had made a top class puzzle game, with potential to dominate. It's now available on most formats, online and of course as a mobile app. I still have never worked out why the creepy, rasping voice-over is included. A hallmark of the game though if a little unusual. 

#3 Klax - Another puzzler from the nineties that doesn't get the full glory or accolades it should, it has been ported to almost every home console and home computers. It looks stunning, and the concept is wonderful. A sloping runway feeds you tumbling tiles which you have to order in the game board to achieve pre-set goals. It provokes many aspects of puzzling; including reflex's, forward planning, assumption, luck and co-ordination. It's utterly fearsome in it's difficultly in later stages but still drags you back in with it's colourful, brash look and cheerful tunes. Klax-amaze!

#2 Lemmings - Guide those little green haired blighters to safety is your draft, saving as many as possible and progress onto the next fantastic environment. A silly game and notion on the outside, but on the inside.. Wow! Lemmings was yet another remarkable game made by DMA, who had a talent for showcasing somewhat dubious themes but making them amusing and absorbing. With different ways to beat each of the many levels, this is one for the ages that calls on all of your puzzling adroitness, but the real reason why it's such a great game is because it's so enjoyable and satisfying to play. Best of all, if you fail miserable you can blow all the buggers up for a cheap thrill. Nuke 'em!

An awesome sight. Tetris of course, not the Geyser!
#1 Tetris - I would find it impossible to believe that any gamer, or any person in the western world for that matter has not played this; the Russian block-stacker that has become the most famous puzzle video game. Alexey Pajitnov, the original programmer of Tetris, was working behind the iron curtain at the time of it's birth, so it's actually incredible the game was ever even allowed to be released. The PC's had the first bragging rights, but it wasn't until Nintendo got hold of it, sold it with the Gameboy, and the rest is history. If you have been living underground since 1984, you have a blank game board with on of 7 shapes falling down for you to arrange together into lines. It's as basic as they come, but it has the uncanny ability to completely suck you in, obsessed by reaching that next level. I cannot think of another title from the last 40 years that has been ported to almost anything with a display screen, it is that widespread and undoubtedly the crown emperor of puzzle games. No argument!

This may be my first list that everybody will agree on the number 1 choice, but feel free to make a suggestion if you think otherwise. Puzzle titles are a great leveler in video game genre's, there is always at least one that any given gamer will like, play and loose their hair too. The next post in this April challenge is more factual, as I look at some of the eye-raising and interesting stats over the course of video games over the years. R is for Record Role-Call!

Bug... Out!


  1. Ahh Tetris, every gamer worth their salt has played some kind of version of it :P

  2. I'm not the biggest fan of Tetris, but jeez I could play that Pipe Mania game all day I was addicted to that

  3. Tetris is an nice game, is one of the most puzzle games searched on internet.Sometime I like to play tetris.