I’m a fan of puzzle games, so I just had to check out Puzzlejuice. How could I resist a game called that, anyway? It’s sounds awesome already – Puzzlejuice. Like the slogan in the app description: “Come for the puzzle. Stay for the juice.”
Now you know I mentioned three other classic puzzle games already. What do they have to do with this one? Well, you get multi-colored blocks, just like you do in Tetris. You must match at least three squares of the same color in order to tap on them to “remove” them, as you would in Collapse. Or you can complete an entire row, just like you would in Tetris. Once the blocks are removed, they get replaced with letters, and you must spell words (with a minimum of three letters), just like in Boggle, to clear them out.
Sounds complicated, right? It’s actually not that difficult to grasp, especially once you clear the tutorial. In fact, it’s because of all of these elements that keeps me coming back for more (and probably you too!).
The controls in Puzzlejuice are simple; when blocks are coming down from the top, just swipe around on the screen to move them left and right. Tap anywhere to rotate them if they are not in the proper orientation. You will see a "ghost" of the block underneath, which will show you where the piece will land if you drag it down. You can also slide blocks into gaps, just as you would in Tetris. If you have three or more squares of the same color grouped up together, just tap on them to convert them into letters. Swipe on letter blocks as you would in Boggle (Wurdle, Scramble with Friends, etc.) to clear them from the screen.
A preview in the bottom right corner will show you the next three block shapes (but not color) that are headed your way. Unfortunately, this can’t be turned off for the added excitement and challenge. Maybe the developer can add an option for this in a future update, because I know people that prefer to not see upcoming blocks in Tetris for the extra difficulty it presents.
There are power-ups that can be unlocked as you progress in the game. So far, I’ve obtained two – one that will blow up any additional blocks surrounding it, and another that will freeze the screen for a brief period of time. You can only “equip” three power-ups to take with you in games, so you must make sure to choose your power-ups wisely.
Puzzlejuice features two game modes: Core Mode and Zen Mode Extreme. Core Mode is the “classic” version of the game, while Zen is the “quick game” mode.
Core Mode features two difficulties: Hard Mode and Euro Extreme Mode. There is also the Powerup Select, where you choose the power-ups to equip with you in the game.
What’s the difference between Hard (more like Normal, actually) and Euro Extreme? Well, in Hard, spelling a word (even if it is just three letters) will result in adjacent blocks being blown up and cleared. To blow up nearby blocks in Euro Extreme, you will have to spell words with a minimum of five letters. The score multiplier is also higher with Euro Extreme, so you are bound to get much better scores in it rather than Hard.
While you’ll be unlocking power-ups in this mode, you will also be notified of new objectives to aim for while in Core mode. Objectives certainly add even more challenges, since you will have to do stuff like turn three lines into letters at once, use two power-ups at once, and more.
Zen Mode Extreme doesn’t have blocks falling down, but you only get 90 seconds to get a high score. Once you start this mode, you are able to see how many seconds you have left at the top. Besides not having the blocks fall down, there isn’t anything else different, besides the time limit. The goal here is to be as quick as possible – you only have 90 seconds to get a high score.
Even though there is no actual multiplayer mode, this game can be a great local cooperative team effort, since there is so much to do. One person can be in charge of grouping the colors together, while another can be finding words to spell out.
The game itself features Game Center integration for leaderboards, though there seem to be no achievements. I would like to see achievements added in the future, as I think this would add another challenging layer to it (spell out a word with a minimum number of letters, etc).
There is also a built-in dictionary, in case you want to lookup what any word you spelled means at the end of the game. Just double-tap on a selected word, and the dictionary will pop up. It’s definitely convenient, and you may even learn something new.
The Picture-In-Picture option is handy, as it displays a preview of the letters underneath your fingers as you tap and drag. This may not be necessary on the iPad as much, but it definitely helps out on a small screen such as the iPhone.
In the end, I definitely found Puzzlejuice to be an absolute delight, and one of my favorite new puzzle games. It provides a lot of difficulty, and is something completely new that it’s refreshing to see in the puzzle game space. It has basically combined the best of three types of puzzle games into one completely awesome game that definitely will “punch your brain in the face.”
The only things I would hope to see in the future are achievements, an option to toggle the preview display, and even maybe have an online multiplayer experience. Even without these, the game is still extremely solid.
If you’re a puzzle game junkie, then do yourself a favor and pick up this game for your iPhone and iPad. You won’t regret it.