"Press any key!"
I’ve only played for around an hour, but so far I’m enjoying Nintendo Puzzle Collection. When I got the package via UPS from Video Game Depot the first thing I noted was the box’s irregular shape. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nintendo has kindly included a FREE GAMECUBE-GAMEBOY ADVANCE CABLE. I wasn’t aware of this, so I pretty much went ecstatic at the thought of having a spare for any GBA-owning buddy who visits. But then I calmed myself and booted up Intelligent System’s latest project.
The first thing I noticed about the game is that it is FULL of text menus. Being a collection of puzzle games it’s to be expected, but ignorant importers like me may never be able to navigate the setup without some fumbling. So far I’d recommend waiting to see if NOA will announce a release date for overseas, especially since this disc holds no new games, though an online menu translation should be enough to get by.
Nintendo Puzzle Collection features three games: Dr. Mario, Panel de Pon and Yoshi’s Cookie. Torn away from my only copy of Dr. Mario ten years ago, I quickly tried the Doctor’s game first. This turned out to be a disappointment, as so far I’ve found it to be the least engaging of the three games. In case you just picked up your first controller, Dr. Mario involves placing bi-polar pills to line three or more blocks in line with viruses of the same color. In case the screens didn’t give it away, this is a port of Dr. Mario 64 (though Nintendo looks to be hiding this fact). I never played the N64 rush-job title, so perhaps this is tweaked and improved over its predecessor, but I have my doubts. It’s full of different modes, but the graphics seem slow and choppy. I quickly moved on to the other offerings. The music seemed last or even SNES generation, though the songs are still classics.
I tried out Yoshi’s Cookie second. Though familiar with the premise, I had never actually played the game. Players must slide the cookies on a grid to make rows of the same type across the screen. I only played for a minute or two, but so far it looks like a winner. If any of the three were recreated from scratch, it would be Yoshi’s Cookie. The audio seems much richer than in Dr. Mario while the graphics are much more detailed.
The real wild card for me was Panel de Pon, also known as Tetris Attack and Pokemon Puzzle League here in the U.S.A. This was the game that really captured my attention. Perhaps this was because I was utterly unfamiliar with the title, but there is no doubt that this is an excellent game. The premise is to horizontally swap the positions of two blocks at a time in order to get three or more of the same type in a row as more blocks pile up from the bottom. Blocks fall if nothing is underneath them, and this quickly becomes the key to the game. The graphics and sound are very 16-bit, leading me to think this is an enhanced variant on the Super Famicom release with aspects borrowed from Pokemon Puzzle League.
I’ve only scratched the surface of these games, but so far I have high hopes. Each game has multiple modes, including 4-player support. Using the GBA as a GC controller is a blessing and I haven’t fooled much with the GBA downloads…yet. Keep an eye out for the final verdict in my upcoming review!