The moment you describe a game as "educational", you tend to lose a portion of its potential audience. However, Puzzle Planets seamlessly integrates the educational bits with action-puzzle gameplay that is fun, challenging and keeps you on your toes. This kind of learning isn’t bad at all.
Puzzle Planets offers 15 planets for you to explore, and you have the potential to score a total of three stars on each. The game begins on a map of the universe, where you can use a fingertip to touch the planet you want to begin on. Each planet is associated with a level of "evolution", so in order to see what creature evolves, you will need to complete the puzzle of each planet to learn about each one. As you progress, you'll go from single celled amoeba to more complex creatures. This is where the learning comes in, but it's subtle and never talks down to the player, so the game is really more puzzle than it is educational.
In each level, you'll need to complete three separate tasks: place tectonic plates, form land, and stop disasters while you build the planet's life. All three stages are fairly quick and you will be timed, so you'll need to work quickly. In the tectonic stage, you'll be given puzzle pieces and you must move the planet around in order to find the spot each one fits into. Once the surface is complete, you'll move into the next stage, which challenges you to form land with small finger swipes.
The last part of this process is the most challenging. You will need to revolve the planet with your fingers and swipe through the water to gather energy. After you have done so, you can swipe it over the land in order to bring it to life, which will make it bloom with green plants. This would be a pretty simple process except at the same time, volcanoes will pop up on the map. A blinking red arrow will warn you that one is about to blow, so you'll have to swipe in that direction and touch it to stop it. Otherwise it'll blow and will affect your score, and if too many go of you will fail the level.
Puzzle Planets was simple, but genuinely fun to play, and we found ourselves working hard to get three star scores on each level. It also has a pleasant, atmospheric soundtrack that fits really well with the gameplay. For the price, this is a really good deal, and it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The challenge definitely goes up as you progress, but the curve is not so steep that it alienates younger gamers. Toss in a bit of solid replay value and Facebook connectivity so you can share scores, and you've got yourself a pretty good deal.
Apr 14, 2011