Puzzle City isn’t the first casual game to let players try their hand at city planning, but it’s certainly one of the most frenetic as Gamezebo found out during our hands-on time with it. As the newly hired construction manager, you’ll get to build up the cityscape by matching color-coded pieces on a grid as they fly off a conveyor belt.
Gameplay is a mixture of SimCity-style urban planning and fast-paced puzzle-solving, with a heavier emphasis on the latter. At the beginning of each level you’ll receive a to-do list from Puzzle City’s CEO, Mz. Towers, that contains goals such as “Build a 3×3 shopping center” or “Cover 50% of the grid.” As building blocks crank out of a machine and travel along a conveyor belt, you have to pluck them up and drag them over to an empty space on the cityscape grid to begin construction.
Each block represents a different building type, such as residential, police, education and shopping. After you place one on the grid you’ll see a tiny house, police station, school or shopping center spring up. The ideal goal is to connect blocks of the same type together for bonuses, but the fact that the blocks are different shapes and sizes makes this more and more difficult to do – especially when the grid starts to get crowded.
Puzzle City has the same frantic randomness as Tetris and other falling-block games, where there’s a fine tipping point between having everything under control and watching it go up in flames as you sit and wait for the one piece you need to complete the level.
Thankfully, however, the game also offers a variety of power-ups to deploy to help keep the upper hand. You can use dynamite to clear the conveyor belt, spray paint blocks a different color, use a hammer to smash larger blocks into single ones, freeze or reverse the conveyor belt for a short time, and even use a bulldozer to demolish a building on the grid if you want to clear room for something else. You’re also given a limited number of opportunities to toss unwanted pieces into the trash (to destroy it) or the recycler (to change it into a different piece.)
There are 48 cityscapes to play through in Puzzle City, and in later levels you’ll go from straightforward square grids to more challenging shapes that make it harder to fit the pieces.
Although Puzzle City‘s action is non-stop, you would do well to pause for a few seconds to admire the scenery and funny animations on offer. Birds and even stranger flying objects will flutter across your cityscape, and your construction worker assistant will pop in every now and then to make a comment or take a phone call.
Puzzle City looks to be an interesting arcade-style puzzle game for players who enjoy challenging their reflexes and having to think on the fly. The addition of likeable characters and an urban planning motif give the puzzles some context and personality as well. So stay tuned for Puzzle City – hopefully you’ll enjoy your stay as much as we did.