Puzzle Scape won't win any awards for originality. Its techno-stylish looks and half of its gameplay are cut-and-pasted right from the PSP's original smash-hit block-stacking game, Lumines. And the other half of its gameplay comes from an even older falling brick brain-basher: Tetris Attack, which was most recently reborn as Planet Puzzle League for the DS. Never played either one? Do that first 'cause they're both a little better, and when you tire of them, come back to this review.
Okay, here's the Puzzle Scape quick and dirty: you've got blocks falling from the sky, one big row at a time. The blocks are all the same shape: square, but they come in four different colors. They make a big pile at the bottom of the screen, where you can slide any individual block left or right as far as you'd like.
This is important, because that's how you create a larger square chunk of four blocks of the same color. Which, in typical puzzle game-like abject defiance of any law of physics we've ever studied (and we did take Physics in college), causes those four blocks to implode, triggering a chain reaction that also destroys any blocks of the same color that happen to be touching them. And also the like-colored bricks touching those bricks, and so on. Think of dynamite and a fuse, only the TNT blows up first and then the fuse burns down.
There's a little more spice to it than that, as well. Tapping triangle will make the blocks fall faster if you so desire, and if you do well enough at any speed, you can also build up meters that grant you one of 12 different power-ups that can slow down time, destroy a row of blocks, paint them different colors… even nuke the whole screen.
And if you continue to kick brick and take… whatever… you can unlock more and more levels. There are 40 in all, each with its own trance, house, or drum & bass tracks and trippy 3D backgrounds - wire-frame flowers, various cell-looking things, nebulas… that type of thing. They're cool, though they lack the overall slickness and class of Lumines' presentation.
Puzzle Scape boasts only two game modes: the arcade-like Artist mode, in which you just go until your stack hits the ceiling, and the objective-based Architect mode. It challenges you to fill a certain number of orders - such as blowing up 13 purple bricks at once, or poofing away three separate groups of at least 6 orange blocks - within a certain time limit.
We also noticed four ad hoc multiplayer modes, both co-op and for up to eight players head to head, so you're in good shape if you ever find anyone else with this game. And that wouldn't be such a bad thing; Puzzle Scape isn't terribly original in either concept or presentation, but it's enough like the great games it's copying to be well worthwhile.