Puzzle Chasers: An exercise in endurance

Konami’s Facebook game Puzzle Chasers has just hit 1,000,000 monthly active users, so I decided to see what the puzzle-solving madness was all about. Here are my comments, in order of frustration:

The game takes an inordinately long time to load
I’ve been playing Puzzle Chasers for half an hour now, and I think at least 60% of that time was spent staring at a little ‘Loading…’ box. The puzzles themselves are fine, but getting to them requires more patience than I have. A browser-based game shouldn’t have files this large. The game loads the book that loads the puzzles, then the puzzles load, and then the pieces load between clicks, then, once the puzzle is complete, it loads the text “Puzzle Complete!” Really? What could it possibly be loading for a second or two in order to make orange text pop up on my screen?

Puzzle Chasers

The monkey contributes roughly half of the speech bubbles and all of the sound effects.

The decorating system is buggy
New decorations arrive in boxes, which you click to open. Mine would not open. I reloaded the game. I was stuck with ‘stow’ and ‘sell’ on my screen, even when I navigated away to the NPC’s mansion. I also couldn’t click on anything else while the dialogue box was open. So, uh, good tutorial, I guess?

New goals are introduced without explanation
Some icons appeared on the top left of my screen. I clicked on them. I was given tasks to complete, in no particular order, and for nebulous rewards. Who are these people? Why am I decorating my house for them? For that matter, how did I get an identical mansion to the crazy uncle who wants me to help his granddaughter while I’m also not quite the guy who jilted her at the altar? Gah!

The story is a big question mark
Puzzle Chasers starts with some guy leaving some girl at the altar, and then he shows up again six years later after some other guy turns the Great Wall into puzzle pieces and teleports them around the world? And the first guy has a monkey? And going to New Zealand plays didgeridoo music? I just… I don’t even…

The game lies to you
Well, more accurately, it rotates puzzle pieces without letting you know that’s a possibility. That and the stuff about Maori history could have been a lie, but I’m not educated enough to know whether that’s the case or not.

Puzzle Chasers

Spatial rotation, why hast thou failed meeeeeeeeee?

Invite your friends! No, really! Please? We’re so lonely…
Leaving Puzzle Chasers idle for more than 30 seconds results in a pop-up suggesting you add all of friends who are least likely to play Facebook games. It also makes random sound effects when you’re in another window, like I am now, typing away. I have no idea what all those random clicks and pops and shuffling noises are, unless it’s my computer attempting to become self-aware again. Time to format!

Racial insensitivity!
I honestly believe this is an accident, but really, people should be more careful. The Maori you meet calls your plane a ‘screaming red bird’ which is fine, I guess? But then the main character, Roxy, is attempting to educate her obviously less erudite ex-fiancé about Maori culture. The exchange becomes:

“The Maoris believe the sun dies every night.”
“I don’t see our wise man.”

Unintended hilarity ensues, at least if you spend too much time reading subtext. You must be a writer!

Huh? There’s energy?

Puzzle Chasers

There sure is, my puzzle-frustrated friend.

I don’t know about you, but puzzles aren’t exactly something I spend hours at a time obsessing over. I’ve been playing Puzzle Chasers for 45 minutes now, and I’ve about reached my limit, which is great, because the game’s decided I have, too. That’s quite convenient, I must say, as is the fact that it may look like you have a massive amount of energy – look, a whole 50! – but each puzzle costs 10 to play.

‘Fast Delivery’ costs the same amount, regardless of the time remaining
At least you’re able to sit still for 50 seconds in the tutorial to keep hold of your free $5 GOOD AS CASH MONIES, but when a dining table that’s going to take 15 hours to deliver costs as much to teleport in as the lamp that’s 15 seconds away, there’s a little bit of an imbalance here. I was wondering how Puzzle Chasers was going to make money – apart from puzzle fiends, who can’t be kept from their next puzzletacular hit without frothing at the mouth – there are decorations that cost real money, but I suppose another avenue for spending is this speed-up-to-decorate business. It may be that I just don’t care about my mansion as much as they would like me to, but I really don’t see the merit in paying for imaginary furniture to speed up. Then again, I don’t see the merit in imaginary clothes, either, so I suppose I’m hardly their target audience.

So, would I play it again?
Maybe. As far as Facebook games go, Puzzle Chasers is at least a nice change from the endless clickety-click of pretend-collecting, and the attempts to teach me about other cultures, while a little heavy-handed, pique my trivia-obsessed brain. Despite my complaints, it’s a pleasant cognitive exercise that provides the challenge of solving a jigsaw puzzle without the trouble of trying to make sure you don’t lose any pieces under the couch. Then again, my puzzles don’t stop me from trying to solve them by asking me to pay real money to continue… Hey, I think I just invented the Next Big Thing!

Puzzle - Now with DLC!

My patent’s already on its way!

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