There’s a good chance that you already know whether or not you're going to purchase Puzzler World 2013. Whether it's because you’ve played a previous game in the series, you’ve read our review of the DS version – which is, for all intents and purposes, the same game – that released in Europe late last year, or if it’s just because you're a fan of puzzle games, this one is pretty obvious. Being the latest instalment in the popular series, there’s not much that hasn’t already been said about the game, but that doesn’t mean this is one to be ignored.
One of the things that makes Puzzler World 2013 great is that it revels in its own simplicity. What this titles comes down to is a collection of puzzle games ranging from classic favourites such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku, to lesser known gems like Takegaki, a game that has you drawing a continuous loop around numbers in a very specific fashion. There are over a dozen different types of brainteasers to tackle, so no matter what kind of puzzles you enjoy, there’s definitely something here for you. If you’ve ever played a game in the Puzzler World series, or if you’ve ever looked at a book of puzzles, then you’ll know exactly what to expect. There aren’t very many bells and whistles to find here, but it is a charming and engaging way to keep your mind active.
There is always the concern with game collections like this in terms of how long they'll last. The bulk of gameplay in Puzzle World 2013 is its Challenge Mode that contains 560 different puzzles; upon completing each of these puzzles you will unlock a second bonus puzzle that accompanies it. As you complete more puzzles in Challenge Mode, you will unlock more difficult versions of them in the Master Mode. When all is said and done, there are over 1200 puzzles to be completed, making this a game worthy of any puzzle fan’s time. On top of that, there is also an in-game achievement system that keeps track of the progress that you’re making, creating a tangible representation of your advancement.
Looking beyond the puzzles themselves, one thing that really does set this game apart from other puzzle collections is the slot machine. After completing a puzzle and its associated bonus puzzle you will have the opportunity to participate in a slot machine minigame to earn coins, which can be used to unlock hints on a puzzle that may have you stuck. After you've unlocked the slot machine once during regular gameplay, then you will be able to access it whenever you want, assuming you have the coins available to operate it. While this may deviate from the majority of the gameplay, having a way to earn more coins to assist in the actual puzzles is a plus, as they tend to become vastly more difficult as you progress.
Puzzler world 2013 is controlled entirely using the 3DS's touchscreen. While you may be able to use the Circle Pad or D-Pad to navigate some of the larger puzzles that take up more than the available screen space, all of your inputs are executed exclusively with the stylus. For the majority of puzzles, the touchscreen controls are very effective and get the job done, but there are occasional hiccups when having to enter handwritten letters or numbers. It can be frustrating when the game misreads the letter "G" as a "C", especially in games such as hangman where a stick figure’s life is on the line, and selecting the correct letter is an essential and delicate process.
The visual and audio presentations reflect the rest of the game in that they’re basic, yet completely inoffensive. Everything looks crisp and clear on the 3DS’s bottom screen, and all of the information and explanations are easy to read on the top. While there are some 3D effects on the top screen, they’re mostly just icons bouncing back and forth and in no way influence the gameplay. This seems like a missed opportunity, as having some of the puzzles take place on the top screen to feature 3D visuals could have put twists on some of the old favourites. The soundtrack is a bit lacking, meanwhile, because it is nearly nonexistent. There is one upbeat song that plays while you're on menu screens selecting a puzzle to play, but once you’re in a puzzle you’re greeted with an eerie silence that is only broken by the occasional sound effect. The lack of soundtrack actually works for this type of game though, as it allows you to multitask and focus on other things, such as watching television, while unwinding with a puzzle.
Puzzler World 2013’s sheer simplicity may be considered a flaw in other games, but it’s part of what makes this title so significant. Rather than forcing new gameplay mechanics or a visual style that pushes players to reacquaint themselves with games they already know, this title instead provides a safe and comfortable return to the basics. A slight handwriting issue aside, this game delivers on exactly what it promises, and that's a world of puzzles. Nothing more, nothing less.