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Review by: Jim Brumbaugh
Published: September 10, 1997
In the many years since the release of the hugely popular game Tetris, game companies have been trying to come up with the ultimate “puzzle” game that would capture the interest of players as much as the original Tetris did. Rather than attempting to produce some pale imitation, Microsoft’s The Puzzle Collection contains an assortment of ten games which come from the mastermind of the original Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov.
“Charmer” is a game in which the player assumes the role of a snake charmer. With a number of different flutes at his disposal, he must determine which flute has the most encouraging effect on each different type of snake. The object of the game is to charm each snake up to the vine which runs across the top of the screen, removing the pot from which each snake is ascending. To complicate matters, lids to each pot will fall from the vine on occasion. Charming a snake will cause it to bump the lid with its head, returning the lid to the vine. If any lid hits a pot, the player loses a life. With a limited number of lives to lose and ten levels to conquer, the player must lead a “charmed” life to win at this game.
In “Color Collision,” the player must navigate the collider through a playing field consisting of various colors of circles and sticks. Hitting the rim of a circle or a stick of the same color as the collider eliminates a green ball on the left side of the screen. Colliding with a circle of the wrong color turns that circle into a stick. Colliding with a stick of the wrong color causes the player to lose one of his lives. Loss of all three lives ends the game, while the successful elimination of all green balls on the left side of the screen advances the player to the next level.
The object in “Flinty Flush” is to fill a four-by-four grid with balls of the same color. There are four grids that the player has to work with, and successfully filling three grids earns the player a bonus point and advances him to the next level. Bonus points can be used to drop balls onto an occupied column of a grid. Columns of balls appear in the upper part of the screen, and a different column can be highlighted by moving the entire arrangement of columns left or right. Clicking on the highlighted column drops it into the grid, if the column is unoccupied. A game is over when the upper section contains too many columns of balls. In addition, the lower grids can be rotated 90 degrees by clicking on the grid. “Flinty Flush” has an infinite number of levels.
“Fringer” is perhaps the most Tetris-like of all the games in The Puzzle Collection, in which the object is to untwist the knotted ropes which appear on the screen. Sometimes the right rope is laying over the left, and at other times, the left rope crosses over the right. An object called a frame must be moved over knots to untwist them, but the frame must be facing the proper direction before the ropes can be untwisted. If the frame slants to the right, knots with the right rope on top can be untwisted; similarly, a left slant will untwist knots with the left rope on top. Complicating matters is a bar which slides down from the top of the screen at regular intervals. This sliding bar not only randomly knots ropes, but it pushes existing knots further down the screen. If a knot reaches the bottom of the screen, the player’s game is ended. On the other hand, untwisting all the knots on the screen causes the player to advance to the next level.
In “Jewel Chase,” the player controls an on-screen thief. The thief can only be moved on floor tiles that are the same color, unless a multicolored tile is encountered, in which case the thief can be moved on a different color of tile. Keys and bombs are scattered throughout the room, and can be used to unlock doors. The valuables in the room must be collected, and the player must have his thief exit the room through the red door before the other thief escapes. If the opposing thief escapes first, the player’s game ends.
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