Pazuru: review

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  • Format: 3DS (eShop)
  • Unleashed: Out now (EU), TBC (US)
  • Publisher: Joindots
  • Developer: Moragami
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.pazuru-game.com/
  • Game code provided by the publisher

We all like surprises, right? Well, the nice sort of surprises, anyway. Thinking some lout dropped a dog poo in your shopping bag before realising that actually a delicious chocolate hazelnut swirl-o fell in without you noticing; that’s a nice surprise. Biting into it and then realising that it really is a dog poo, and remembering that there’s no such thing as a chocolate hazelnut swirl-o; that is not a nice surprise. Pazuru is a game we hadn’t previously heard of, is extremely cheap at just £3.99, and the graphics are very much basic; but it’s brilliant. Perhaps, somewhere out there, delicious chocolate hazelnut swirl-os really do exist after all.

Pazuru (Japanese for ‘puzzle’, fact fans), despite having a cute little ninja chap for a mascot, is a puzzle game featuring lots of triangles. The ninja alludes to ‘ninja-like reflexes’, you see, which it is claimed are necessary for success here. Don’t worry; even if you struggle to summon enough energy to emerge from bed at the crack of noon, you should still be okay here. This is the thing that you must do: Guide an ever-moving little dot around a single-screen area, collecting any and all yellow stars whilst ensuring that it does not hit any spikes and thereby (perhaps) condemning it to ever-moving little dot hell.

You have no direct control over the dot; you must instead manipulate the world around it to ensure it follows the path you want it to, like some kind of god who hates the concept of free will. You need only two buttons to do so. By the end of the game you will have the power to rotate red triangles by pressing A, make black triangles with a dot in the middle disappear and reappear by pressing A, and leave a solid trail behind your dot (that can be bounced off once from another angle) by holding R. That’s it.

It looks hand-drawn, and probably is; but that’s no bad thing.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is enough. Throw in a few elements that you can’t control – solid triangles, portals, and boxes that can be bounced off a single time – and you have what is demonstrably a recipe for a furiously addictive puzzle game. That lil’ dot doesn’t stop moving, remember; once the levels start getting trickier, you’ll need to forward plan while simultaneously making sure your reflexes are spot-on. That A button affects every relevant triangle on screen at once. Hit the button too early, you could rotate or dis/appear the wrong obstacle, sending your dot to its doom; too late, you have the same problem. With just two stars left to collect, your poor little dot is sent hurtling into spikes! Hmm, I should’ve left a trail; but when? If I double back over it, it disappears…

For an extra something to aim for, each of the 75 stages awards you 1-3 stars depending on how many taps of the A button you need to solve the puzzle, a counter in the top corner letting you know how many more moves you’re allowed for the current star rating. If Pazuru grabs you as hard as we expect it to, you’ll be determined to get the maximum star rating for each level. That’s just as well; the number of stages may be generous, but our first pass through saw us emerge with 207 out of a possible 225 stars, all earned in a total time comfortably under two hours. That’s not long, but we loved every second.

Let it rebound off the box, then make the triangle appear, quickly rotate the red one so it… no, hang on…

There’s a cherry on top of this short but sweet gaming cake. A level editor, intuitive and simple to use, is also included. Surprisingly perhaps, working out what makes a good puzzle level can be almost as fun as playing through the ones in the main game. Unsurprisingly, there’s no way to upload or download levels through the game; but, this being a 3DS game, levels can be saved as QR codes. That still means sharing and finding levels is going to be difficult but, if this game gets the fanbase it deserves, an online hub of some kind will rear its head at some point.

This is clearly a very low budget game (it’s even a 3DS title with no 3D effect – at all!), primarily driven by a single person, but the level design is sheer genius. Its quality is almost a disadvantage, urging players on until they suddenly realise it’s all over far too soon. At such a low price, however, you can’t really afford not to buy it.

critical score 8

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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