(DSiWare)

Game Review

Animal Puzzle Adventure Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Desiree Turner

Puppies and kittens and piglets, oh my

Aksys Games makes most of their living by translating and localising Japanese games for Western markets. Their choices for WiiWare offerings, at least, haven't been great so far, but they've now graced the DSi Shop with partner developer Arc System Works' Animal Puzzle Adventure (formerly Chiria no Doubutsu Koya). In this adorable-looking puzzler, you work alongside Chilia, a pink-haired girl who quite possibly is the worst shepherdess ever. Completely incapable of keeping her animals penned up on her own, she's counting on your assistance to return her assorted lost creatures to their respective barn-shaped homes. The concept is simple enough, but will such a simple game be able to keep your interest?

The game is mainly controlled via the D-Pad and buttons, though the stylus may also be used at times. A allows you to enter menus and select options, while B cancels and exits. During the game, the D-Pad moves the animals around on the map on the top screen. X pauses the game and allows you to restart if you like, and Y gives you the option to quit and return to the title menu.

There's no real plot to this game, and no tutorial mode, either. Selecting 'Start Game' brings you to a level select area, where you may choose from any of the ten levels available for the particular chapter you're on. There are five chapters in all, each with ten stages, and by beating eight of the ten stages you'll unlock the next chapter to play. Upon selecting a stage, you're presented with a little island of land on the top screen as your puzzle, upon which you begin in the first chapter by herding kittens and puppies into their barns. No matter how many animals are in a puzzle, they all move at the same time, and in order to solve the puzzle they must all reach their tiny individual barns at the same time. In each puzzle, there are scattered stumps, rocks, and fences that may be used to help split up your group of creatures so that you can get them all home together safely. If one of your animals falls into a hole or walks off the edge of the puzzle map, however, you instantly fail and are given the option to try again from the beginning. On the bottom screen, Chilia helps you by providing occasional tips for manoeuvring her scattered animals around the obstacles in each puzzle, but never anything specific enough to really help you through.

Upon solving each puzzle, you are rewarded with a piece of a picture in the Gallery. Solving each of the ten puzzles in a Chapter will reveal the entire photo of Chilia looking cute. Considering the first shot involves Chilia waking up in her somewhat skimpy bedclothing, it's probably a safe bet that the Gallery images are where the 'E10+' rating comes from. Once you've unlocked an image in the Gallery, you may set it as the game's 'wallpaper' (the image you see upon loading the game) if you like.

As you progress through the stages, the puzzles become progressively harder and harder. This is not really the kind of game you'll sit down and play straight through in one session, because you'll probably be bored just a few puzzles in. The concept is simple enough that a tutorial is not really required, but the bare-bones nature of the game will become frustrating when you get stuck. Considering the main puzzle mode is the only mode of play, some kind of relief (either via more specific tips from Chilia or some kind of 'hint' function) would have been nice.

Graphics-wise, Animal Puzzle Adventure is adorable in a 'generic cutesy Japanese game' sort of way. There's nothing offensive to the eye, but also nothing truly spectacular, though you might get a kick out of unlocking the different Gallery images, if that's your pleasure. Musically, the soundtrack is upbeat and cute, providing a synthesised backdrop fitting for the adorable graphics. The sound effects don't really mesh with the music; in fact, there are times when they clash dissonantly, prompting a quick wince from any audiophiles who may be playing the game. Thankfully, the Option Menu at the main screen gives you the option to set the volume for both the background music and the sound effects independently of one another.

Conclusion

This surprisingly plain 'Adventure' rapidly becomes boring unless you're in it for the sheer intellectual challenge of solving each puzzle. There is no 'hint' feature if you get stuck, which may well happen even within the first Chapter. Unlocking pictures of a cute girl is not terribly interesting, and certainly not incentive enough to keep you going when you're frustrated, but the good thing is that you can pick this up and put it down at any time if you like. Guiding cute little lost critters to their barns is a simple enough concept, but Animal Puzzle Adventure really leaves it at that, which isn't a good thing - it's a generic puzzle game with cute graphics slapped onto it, and it shows.

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User Comments (24)

Froggievilleus

#1

Froggievilleus said:

This game is 'meh' at best. A hint feature would have been nice. Or at the least, the animal should stay in the barn when it finally gets there instead of leaving while you try to get the others there. sigh

TheKingOfTown

#2

TheKingOfTown said:

Wow. This got the same score as Pub Darts? Two NA downloadable game failures. But hey at least we got Castlevania Rebirth

StarDust4Ever

#3

StarDust4Ever said:

I couldn't help LOTFLMAO at how pathetic those poor little dogs looked with tires stuck around their heads :P Commence the shoveling!!!

Jacob

#4

Jacob said:

That did seem like a stretch to have a good game relating to this.

warioswoods

#6

warioswoods said:

I actually enjoy this, so your mileage may vary depending on your affinity for puzzle games of this sort. It's true that there is no tutorial and a complete absence of additional options or modes, but the puzzle gameplay is challenging and good for a quick game or two when you have a few minutes to spare.

It actually bears some similarities to Might Flip Champs, believe it or not -- cutesy girl and her animated animal friends with gameplay that boils down to finding the correct path or sequence of moves in order to save them. In fact, though, I find MFC tedious as I make my way through the screens, but these puzzles are well contained so that they are quite challenging but only take a moment to actually complete once you discern the solution.

warioswoods

#7

warioswoods said:

This review desperately needs some more screenshots, by the way. The levels are tremendously more varied in design than the simple one shown here.

CorbsAdmin

#8

Corbs said:

This review desperately needs some more screenshots, by the way. The levels are tremendously more varied in design than the simple one shown here.

You think?

hobbes

#9

hobbes said:

"Unlocking pictures of a cute girl is not terribly interesting, and certainly not incentive enough to keep you going when you're frustrated"

It might be enough for Feenie... :D

TKOWL

#11

TKOWL said:

I probably look like a total weirdo saying this, but I think that girl's really hot

Marioman64

#13

Marioman64 said:

i watched a gameplay video on youtube and think it looks pretty good. and if the animals stayed in their barns while the others moved around that would ruin the point of the puzzle. im trying to choose between getting this or reflect missle (AKA: Trajectile), and i'll probably get this

Marioman64

#14

Marioman64 said:

yeah i just downloaded the game and this review seems wrong.
first off, the game is nothing short of brilliant. the level design seems brutal but there is a logical solution to each puzzle, you just have to move around a bit to see it.
second, the mix of the chibi-style and the music is to keep you sane while you find a solution. i think it fits perfectly and i see no problem with the sound or music
and finally, the whole style of the game fits perfectly. i kept laughing every time i made something fall off the cliff and i kept trying because it's just a fun puzzle.
i'd give it a 9/10 because while the record score does add replayability, there's no par score. it would be nice to see what the par score is after you beat a stage. also there's lack of a level editor, which would have been nice too.

"This surprisingly plain 'Adventure' rapidly becomes boring unless you're in it for the sheer intellectual challenge of solving each puzzle."

isn't that the point of puzzle games?

warioswoods

#15

warioswoods said:

I wouldn't say that the review is wrong, as every criticism in it is basically correct. I'd just say that this is one of those puzzle games that will appeal to some while seeming frustratingly repetitive to others. I certainly enjoy it; I've completed 37 out of the 40 stages in the first four chapters... but those remaining three are brutal.

theblackdragonAdmin

#16

theblackdragon said:

@Marioman64: Some games balance fun and straight-up intellectual challenge very well, but this one does not. The cuteness is rather deceptive, and there's no 'adventure' to be found. It's great that you guys liked it, but i found it needlessly frustrating and bland, thus i reviewed it as such. :3

Marioman64

#17

Marioman64 said:

...hmmm ok. but just because it says 'adventure' in the title doesn't mean there's gonna be any. if it's what it looks like then it's a simple translation of a japanese title to a north american market. take pokemon rumble for example. pokemon scramble was a much better name, because it feels like all the pokemon are scrambling all over the place.
as for this game, maybe it does lack a super-easy mode to keep people from getting frustrated, but whatever. everyone's got their opinions...

but a 4?

theblackdragonAdmin

#18

theblackdragon said:

A game with a four may well have some redeeming features, but we're clearly issuing caution to stay away from this game.
... as in 'don't let the cute graphics fool you into thinking this is anything but a bland, boring puzzle game with no relief in sight should you get frustrated and are unable to proceed'. Sorry we don't agree, Marioman64, but them's the breaks.

warioswoods

#19

warioswoods said:

Having now completed all 50 stages, I can verify just how difficult the game can be. I can sympathize with those who give up in frustration, as you can easily hit a wall and never be able to progress until you figure out what combination you're not seeing. I enjoyed it, however, just as I strangely enjoy many types of torturous puzzles (cryptograms, etc).

Oh, and while the instruction manual does state that the next chapter will unlock after you beat 8/10 stages of the preceding chapter, that is not true for accessing the final chapter, which requires that you have beaten all 40 of the preceding stages. The final chapter has to be played in order as well, with each subsequent stage remaining locked until you beat the previous one. So... in order to see the whole game, you can't skip a single puzzle that you're stuck on.

ramstrong

#20

ramstrong said:

Having completed all 50 stages multiple times, I can vouch that none of the puzzles are really hard. Certainly, it is hard if you don't know what you're doing. However, each advance stage have a key idea that you have to discover. None of the stage takes more than 100 steps. I have a walkthrough as well as par score on my blog: ramstrong.blogspot.com on Feb 2, 2010 entry.

Kyloctopus

#21

Kyloctopus said:

You expect this to be some easy game 5 year olds can beat but oddly 27 year olds who can beat a rubix cube easily can't beat the puzzle. I give props for difficulty but a tutorial? In every dsiware theres an in game guide isn't that good enough? I give this a 7/10

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#23

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

Wow, I'm so tempted to get this purely for the cuteness of the animals and the girl (and that adorable banner) but I can see now I will fail this game in the first chapter, I'm not good at games like that. (Moving more than one creature to get to a goal, although I was good at this one Flash game about a blue ball... can't think of the title). Aww, heck with it, for 500 points, and a game some grown ups struggle with, no thank you. :) ....Although I am a sucker for cute animals and anime.

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