Boy, just when I thought the puzzle genre wasn’t my bag, along comes a game like Eets. It turned my expectations on their heads.

Since I started reviewing casual games, I’ve been the adventure or strategy guy. Rarely, if ever, the puzzle guy. I don’t have a particular bias against puzzle games. I’ve just not connected with one in quite a while. That was, until Eets.

At its heart, Eets is a puzzle game, but it’s been tempered with some of the charisma and charm of a character-based platformer, creating a delicious combo that I was instantly smitten by. As with most original concepts, it’s difficult to describe. The best comparison I can come up with is to the late 80’s and early 90’s classic Lemmings. In both games, players try to guide mindless creatures on a path that will lead them to safety, or, in Eets case, to a piece of a giant puzzle.

Moreover, in Eets, what the game’s adorable little guy lacks in brains he makes up for with an insatiable hunger and a lot of heart. Different items that Eets… umm, eats produce different emotional effects. Some make him mad, some happy, but all of those states have an effect on how he moves. For instance, a scared Eets won’t jump off a cliff, but an angry Eets will often jump too far and overshoot his mark. The challenge comes in laying out the right food for Eets to get him to the end of the stage.

Also at your disposal are several tools that can help clear a path. These go from the practical, like a light bulb that keeps Eets from being scared in the dark, to the downright insane, such as an allergic pig that shoots a smaller, explosive pig out of its rear end. Honestly, if you’ve read that last sentence without skipping directly to the download button, I don’t know what to tell you. If you need more convincing, that little pig wears a cape and shouts “Freedom!” as he rockets away.

What’s great for the puzzle-averse like me is that these items are introduced very gradually, with a training stage every time a new one is added to your arsenal. Plus, you’re given a set list of tools to use in each stage, so it’s never overwhelming.

If I had one complaint, it’s that the physics of those different tools and their effects are hard to predict, so you’ll often have to hone your strategy for quite a while before you find the right angle to, say, shoot a chocolate chip from a cannon on a cloud. Like I said, insane. This type of problem, however, is infrequent in the game’s many stages.

And, to Eets’ credit, how’s this for replay value. Not only can you use the included level creator to make your own levels, you can also download the stages created by others and upload your own to an extensive online Eets community.

In the end though, perhaps Eets greatest strength is its flawless visual design, capped by the game’s leading … err … thing. With his expressive, wild eyes and ever-open maw, he looks more like the crazed star of some bizarre underground comic than your typical casual game mascot.

But then, there’s not really anything typical about Eets, from its innovative gameplay to the cute design and sound effects that make the game completely endearing. Sure, it’s oddball, but everything’s balanced on extremely sound gameplay. And that’s something that even puzzle-phobes can get excited about.