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PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient review

Think you're a genius? Here's your chance to prove it

Pros

  • 100 ingenious puzzles keep you hooked
  • Perfect for short bursts of play
  • Online rankings give scores meaning

Cons

  • Restarting levels gets infuriating
  • Cheating your way to brilliance is easy
  • Scoring last is extra-humiliating

At some point in your life, you've probably taken an I.Q. test. Maybe it was a series of simple questions and visual puzzles, or maybe it was in the back of a magazine. Either way, it probably wasn't anywhere near as fun as PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient.

PQ seems simple enough. With a visual style that apes Metal Gear Solid's VR missions (think 3-D grid environments), it stars a faceless, monochromatic little fellow with modest block-pushing-and-lifting skills who has to escape from a series of rooms. Standing in his way are a cavalcade of increasingly devious puzzles involving movable blocks, laser beams, conveyor belts and roving guards with flashlights.

The game boasts 100 of these puzzles, each requiring a unique strategy. In the first room, you'll start out just rearranging square blocks to form a staircase to the exit, but you'll soon find yourself navigating multi-tiered mazes and pushing walls around to block webs of lasers or guards with flashlights (come into contact with either, and you'll be forced to start the stage over). In later levels, you'll need to stack weights to open pressure-sensitive gates, use revolving doors that rotate the entire stage and memorize maps to pick your way through multi-room labyrinths.

Through it all, you'll battle a timer and a "move" limit that docks your score if you perform too many actions. Unlike most other games, your score in PQ actually means something. Designed as a test of your "practical intelligence," the game measures your demonstrated smarts with a score similar to an I.Q. And because an I.Q. test is pretty meaningless unless you can brag about it, PQ uses the PSP's built-in WiFi to rank you on a regionally sorted online leaderboard.

All this might seem a little dull, a perception that the stark graphics don't help much. But despite the minimalist look (which grows on you after a while), the sheer cleverness and variety of the puzzles makes this one of the most addictive original titles on the PSP.

More Info

GenreFamily
DescriptionIn spite of its flaws, PQ is an extremely addictive, innovative title that gives PSP-owning puzzle fans a welcome break from falling-block games.
PlatformPSP
US censor ratingEveryone
Release date10 January 2006 (US), 10 January 2006 (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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