Cast your mind back a few months to the launch of Ubongo on DSiWare. In that instance, Korner Entertainment took a popular board game and turned it into a mediocre puzzle/board game; here, Korner has removed the board game licence, the story and the gem-grabbing puzzle mode to reduce the package right down to its barebones. Is it proof that less is more? Well, perhaps.
The idea of Puzzle Fever is simple: you're given Tetris-style pieces to fit into a grid, and once you've filled the outline of the shape you can move onto the next level. Things start out easy with just two shapes to lock into place, but the difficulty ramps up later on when you have several pieces and larger outlines with which to contend. Anyone who's played Ubongo will find the concept familiar here — it's all but identical to the shape-matching part of that game, stripped of any extraneous elements.
If you're planning to play completely with the stylus, we'd advise you change your plan: the gestures used to rotate and flip the pieces are not responsive, and you'll often need several attempts at a swipe or quarter-circle motion to get the game to register. We recommend using the D-Pad and shoulder buttons instead as it drastically improves responsiveness.
The two single-player modes, Relax and Time Attack, both take you through exactly the same puzzles with the addition of a time limit in the latter; if you don't complete the puzzle in time, you fail. Relax Mode takes away the pressure, just letting you get on with the puzzle at hand. There are 193 to choose from, but you must complete them all in order in both modes: if you get halfway through Relax Mode and decide to add a time limit, you must finish all previously conquered puzzles. As both contain identical puzzles, it feels less like a move to expand gameplay and more like a way to trick you into thinking you're getting twice as much value from your download. If you and a friend both pick up the game, you'll be able to play in multiplayer mode against each other, choosing the number of pieces available to see who can clock it first.
What you've got here is a mildly taxing puzzle game that entertains for a while, but really, there's not a lot to it. The lack of any score or “best time” leaderboards in either mode reduces the incentive of repeat play, and while multiplayer adds some spice to the proceedings, the addition of Download Play would have been a welcome bonus.
Graphically there's absolutely nothing to write home about, with only a few shapes, arrows and hexagons. Aurally it's nothing special either, with some occasional sound effects permeating the instantly forgettable music.
Puzzle Fever isn't bad, just completely mediocre. The collection of 193 levels sounds great, though it's a shame the two available modes simply recycle the same puzzles. It's been said countless times before, but there really are far more worthy puzzle games on DSiWare, making this one only worthwhile for the truly puzzle-obsessed.