We've already seen the first Tales of Bearsworth Mansion release make use of a tower defence-style gameplay mechanic, but now Square-Enix is mixing things up a bit with Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages, the second game in the series and a game that uses the same bear-tossing element of the first release but takes things into a more puzzle-oriented direction.
The main goal in each level is to toss your bear units near pieces of red candy that are located around each area. Your bears will then pick up the candy and complete the level. While this starts out rather easy, the game will soon begin to make things more difficult by placing the candy in places that will require you to solve puzzles in order to get to them. You'll also receive medals based upon how many bear units you have left at the end of each level, so how you use your squad also becomes a big part of your success throughout the game, especially if you want to unlock the Endless Story mode.
Tossing your units into play is as easy as flicking the Wii Remote. You aim your directional arrow by twisting the Wii Remote left and right; once you see the arrow pointing in the direction you wish to toss, you lock in by pressing the A or B button and flick the Wii Remote up. The harder you flick, the farther your bear will travel before hitting the ground running. This accuracy becomes more integral once you begin playing levels that require you to land units on specific ledges or hit and activate switches. It's quite tricky, but you'll begin executing it accurately with a little practice and timing.
You'll find the puzzle elements a bit trickier as you progress through the various chapters of the book. You begin the game basically using your bear-tossing skills alone to reach the pieces of red candy needed to complete the level, but soon you'll be forced to destroy wooden boxes with bombs, activate switches and even use See-Saw Trees to catapult your bears to hard-to-reach candy. You'll even have elemental spells at your disposal like fire to ignite the bombs and water to put out fires that could possibly burn up your paper bears. It's figuring out the best way to solve each area's puzzle that becomes the key to conquering the levels using the least number of teddy soldiers.
The simple and responsive controls give the game a very smooth and playable feel, and even switching between speciality items and units feels quite intuitive and easy to do. The timing and feel of tossing the bear units is something that takes a little practice and getting used to, but that's part of the learning curve that proves to be so much fun as you slowly figure out how to get your units to each piece of candy. You'll even find that there are generally several ways to solve a level and finding the one that requires the least number of bear units becomes the biggest part of the challenge.
From a presentation standpoint, the game is hit or miss for the most part. While you'll be treated to some beautifully detailed visuals in the opening scenes, the levels themselves tend to be a bit bland and lack the same level of detail used in the opening sections of the game. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, but giving players a treat at the beginning of the game and then taking some of it away seems a bit odd. Luckily the game's audio presentation remains impressive throughout the game, so it ends up picking up a lot of the slack from the game's rather uninspired visual performance.
Tales of Bearsworth Manor: Puzzling Pages takes a fairly simple Wii Remote tossing gameplay element and weaves a rather creative storybook adventure around it. While not quite as immersive as the tower-defence style gameplay of Chaotic Conflicts, the game's unique puzzle elements do offer up a nice change of pace from the other Tales of Bearsworth Manor release. Ultimately it will depend on what type of gameplay you prefer, but in all honesty, you can't really go wrong with either release as both have plenty of fun to offer you for your 1,000 Wii Points.