If you think that there are all together too many puzzle games available on the DSiWare service, there is a good chance that you are right. It can be a bit overwhelming when there are so many great titles to choose from, but fortunately for you Snapdots has finally arrived in North America to make that choice a bit easier. This new, fun, and downright addictive puzzler will have you playing for hours on end.
As is the case with most puzzle games (with the huge exception of Puzzle Quest), there is no storyline to be found here. There is, however, an adorable alien girl named Dotty who will provide you with some helpful, and often silly, bits of wisdom between levels and on the menu screen.
Drawing much influence from games such as Picross and Art Style: PiCTOBiTS, the gameplay in Snapdots is fresh, yet comfortably familiar. The objective in each level is to recreate a picture that is missing a handful of blocks. The complete picture is shown on the left side of the touch screen to give you an idea of what you are going for, and your game board is displayed on the right. It is your job to navigate a tiny UFO horizontally across the bottom of the square game board and to shoot blocks into the picture. Rather than being able to move vertically as well, you are instead given the ability to turn the board 90 degrees in order to hit different spots of the picture. When you land a block correctly, it will turn blue, while incorrectly placed blocks will be red. Later in the game you run into new blocks that can be pushed or bounced off of by shooting at them, adding a new twist to the strategy needed to complete each level.
The controls are very intuitive and quick to master. The D-Pad is used to move your UFO from left to right while the L and R buttons rotate the game board. A fires a block, B retracts blocks that you've already fired, and X simply undoes your last move. The start button brings up the pause menu in which you can quickly restart, quit, or save your game in progress and then quit. Also featured in the start menu is a list of the functions of each button, just in case you forget the controls mid-play and don't feel like checking this review for them.
The main game mode in Snapdots is simply titled Puzzle. In this mode you will start out at level one, and you will have a very limited amount of stages in the level to choose from. As you beat stages, more will become available. Eventually, without necessarily completing the entire level, more levels full of stages will become available to play. There are 5 levels with 30 stages in each, providing plenty of gameplay for the price.
Time Attack is the second gametype on offer. In this mode, you will be given a certain amount of time in which to complete puzzles, and the quicker and more efficiently you complete the puzzles, the more time will be added to your clock. The puzzles featured in this mode are ones that you already have available in Puzzle mode, but they appear in random order. Time Attack is a good way to practise puzzles that you've already played and to master your Snapdots skills.
The audio and visuals in Snapdots are cute and have the necessary charm to keep a game like this entertaining. There is nothing really special about either, but they do the game justice. The visuals are plain, sticking mostly to flat images, the only really diverse aspect being Dotty herself. All of the backdrops are silhouettes while she stands out with her huge head of pink hair and red mini-dress with matching boots. Besides this, there's not much too look at, but the game can't exactly be faulted for that because it has absolutely nothing to do with the puzzle gameplay itself. The music is similar in that it's nothing really special, but still gets the job done. All of the musical tracks are simple and upbeat MIDIs reminiscent of SNES-era gaming.
The only real problem here is that the difficulty curve can be pretty intense. Some puzzle fans will have no problem with this game, but other players might quickly become frustrated a few levels in. The first couple of levels are mind-numbingly easily, but that doesn't last very long at all. Once you get the hang of how things work, however, you'll find yourself thinking outside of the box and figuring out puzzles in no time. In the same vein, the replayability here is endless. Figuring out how to do the puzzles is only half of the battle, but doing them quickly and using the least amount of moves is what Snapdots mastery is all about. It's a fun game to play, and replaying it is actually just as good of a time.
Snapdots is a fresh, fun and addictive puzzle game that will keep you hooked for hours on end. With around 150 different puzzles to play and master, you're definitely getting your money's worth with this 500 Point title. Puzzle games aren't for everyone, however, and the difficulty curve can be pretty daunting, but Snapdots would make a fine addition to almost any gamer's DSiWare collection.