Providing a review for a game can sometimes be an easy task. Some other times it can be really tiresome. It sure takes time, though. It’s almost like putting all the pieces of a big puzzle together. Very suitable that my next review actually will be about that kind of “game”…
At first, it struck me like a few weeks ago when I took the bullet for the team to review Bingo. Yes, you heard right. Bingo. If you have not read my review, why not now…? Well, honestly, I thought I might have picked a bad one here as well. However, what wrong could you possibly do by developing a puzzle game for such a highly compatible console with the genre? The answer would be much. So, how did developer Dico/BottleCube do?
Have fun putting the pieces together to decide whether or not you want to buy Animated Jigsaws: Beautiful Japanese Scenery with my review!
Honestly, did you expect a story in this puzzle game? Me neither. And we are both right. There is none.
As Japan is the setting here, a traditional Japanese-style tune starts playing in the menu and carries over to when you are actually searching for the elusive puzzle piece that will fulfill your goal of achieving the satisfaction of discovering that complex solution.
When in the puzzle screen and pressing the options button, you can change the background music. In total, you have three tracks to choose from. Song No. 1 is pre-selected, the third one is the one from the intro while track No. 2 is a tune not used elsewhere. Personally, I prefer the second song over all the given three.
The traditional Japanese music style of the mini-soundtrack is highly suitable for this game. It complements the puzzles you are completing perfectly. When picking a puzzle or tapping a button, a (taiko?) drum or sometimes something that reminds me of wooden sticks being tapped against each other is heard. This is so much nicer than if it were to happen in silence, in my opinion. Since it is such a tiny sound, it does not ruin the atmosphere of the soundtrack that it plays along with.
But, it would not be me if I had nothing to complain about regarding the music. The three tracks are nice, but if you are sitting in front of a 240 piece puzzle, even the three provided songs are simply not enough variety. It gets repetitive, and I found myself often muting the audio to not loose concentration.
Visuals & Performance
Let me get this out of the way first: while playing in handheld or TV mode, I had no breakdowns or any other issues of any sort. Thank god, as I would have screamed if my Switch would have frozen while placing the last piece of a giant puzzle forcing me to do it all over again in a patient way which only monks might have.
Animated Jigsaws: Beautiful Japanese Scenery is exactly how you could describe the visuals of this game. The images of the puzzles are picked carefully despite not being very original. But you cannot go wrong with the classy tourist attractions from Japan. For example, the Shibuya Scramble Crossing or the crimson Torii in front of the Itsukushima Shrine on the island of Miyajima make for wonderfully beautiful and complex puzzle images.
All of the puzzles pieces are displayed in a style that vaguely resembles a Tatami mat. You can change the colour where you place the pieces from green to yellow or red. It’s a nice little function, if you ask me. All of the puzzle pieces are also cut out sharply, so you can make out the edges feel very much like a real puzzle.
Now, to the most important aspect of all: the animation of the puzzle images. It is a relatively fresh and honestly nice surprise. At first, I was not sure what to think of it, but it turned out to be gorgeous. This simple yet clever addition of this feature makes the point of this puzzle game. Imagine this scenario between friends:
Friend who does not play games at all (why are we friends again?): ‘Jen, what are you playing now?’
Me: ‘A puzzle game for the Switch.’
Friend who does still not play games at all: ‘A what?’
Me, slightly annoyed: ‘You heard me. A puzzle game for the Nintendo Switch!’
Person I used to know and made me wonder why we were friends in the first place: ‘And what is the point in it?’
Again me, still annoyed: ‘It is fun, and it is animated! Can your puzzle do that?!’
Nope, it cannot. And the developer knew it. Checkmate! … Oh, wrong game.
You can put your puzzle together with the touch screen or with the analoge sticks. The ‘player’ moves the curser (a little hand with a glowing border) around with the left stick and picks up the puzzle piece with A. To put it down on the place you consider to be right, you simply let go of the A button.
If you find prefer using your finger in handheld mode like I did, you can simply drag the pieces around and let go of them to see if you placed them right. If so, the piece will glow and lock in place. Thankfully, you have to place the piece down on the almost the exact place it belongs to make this occur. Otherwise, you could cheat very easily by just dragging around pieces along the image. You do not have to be 100% precise, though. If you are narrowly close to the location, the piece will automatically rush over to its position and lock in place. Kudos to the developer team for this. Otherwise, it could have been annoying to place every piece exactly into its place.
Initially, there will be three puzzles to choose from. With 10 in total, seven are locked until you finish the puzzle preceding it. You start with 60 pieces in the first row of three puzzles, go up to 120 in the second one and so on. If you have completed one puzzle and wish to do it again, you get the option to pick a harder version with double the amount of pieces it had when you completed it in the first place. For example, when you completed the golden Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto puzzle with 60 pieces, on your second ‘playthrough’ you could attempt the same picture with 120 pieces. On your third attempt, you can actually increase this to 240 pieces.
You can actually solve puzzles together with up to four friends. You are asked to detach the joy con controllers to play so you do not interfere with each other while dragging the pieces around. The little cursers are different colours, so you will not be confused by which hand you are controlling. All you got to do is remember your own colour. It is fun, but I actually preferred to play alone.
When you start a puzzle, all the pieces are scattered around the upper top of the screen. With one handy button on the left, you can let the game actually sort them for you into two categories: edge and inside pieces. This was a very handy feature I welcomed in later stages where the number of puzzle pieces increased. Speaking of which… This is the only real downside of the game. The space for you to put down your puzzle pieces is too small. I often tended to sort my pieces in advance such as by certain colours or/and locations in which I thought they would fit. With 120 pieces or more, a third of the screen was just not enough.
After completing a puzzle, you can actually get some very brief information about the shown image (location and what it actually is). You also can see your stats indicating how long it took you to finish a puzzle along with how many pieces it had at the time.
*This review was written by Jennifer for switchwatch.co.uk.
Did you put all the pieces of my review together and can actually see the whole picture of my opinion? Well, let me spell it out for you: I did not expect to love this game this much. It was a pleasant surprise how well everything turned out in the end. The developer did think of everything (except the space that runs out quickly in higher ‘levels’). It is not too easy, but it does not lead into frustration as well.
I had my fair amount of fun with that game. For $9.99 USD or £7.99 GBP, it can be a little bit pricey if you are not into replaying the same puzzle over and over again, and ten puzzles might not be enough for you. But I guarantee you, it is worth your money if you are into puzzle games or if you can play it with your little ones like Juan did. It is suitable for children, and I also think with the help of mommy and daddy, she or he can conquer the big puzzles too while admiring the beautiful animations in them!
* A review copy of Animated Jigsaws: Beautiful Japanese Scenery was provided to Switchwatch by Rainy Frog.
Animations on puzzles are unique
Decent game for puzzle fans
No puzzle fan? Not the right game for you!
Two more tracks would have been nice