Review: Hands On! Tangrams (DSiWare)

All hands on deck?

Hands On! Tangrams, originally a DS retail game, is now a DSiWare title thanks to developer Island Officials; it's a simple, bare bones affair that is fun while it lasts, but has very little replay value and may prove too simple for more experienced gamers. Still, with the low entry price, there are worse puzzle games with which to spend a few hours.

A tangram consists of seven puzzle pieces that form an object when placed together correctly. Hands On! Tangrams features 10 different "themes," each with 10 different puzzles that, when completed, appear on the top screen to form a cute, childlike drawing. Themes are very generic, taking players to a zoo, a beach, a jungle, a busy city and more; completed puzzles will form objects that are appropriate for the theme, such as a giraffe, car or other simple items. The art, while cute and clean, is also very safe and doesn't make a lasting impression. The cartoon visuals and straightforward gameplay suggest that this is targeted at a younger audience; since each puzzle contains the same seven pieces, the difficulty doesn't change from theme to theme.

The controls are easy to grasp. Players move pieces with the stylus, rotate them with the shoulder buttons and flip them with the D-pad. It feels a little awkward to use the D-pad to flip the pieces, as one shoulder button could have rotated pieces and one could have flipped them, which would have streamlined the process and eliminated the need for the D-pad altogether. Still, the controls are far from broken and we're sure many players won't have an issue.

What players will have an issue with is the sound. Each theme has one song that replays over and over again, and if you don't like a song, hopefully you won't get stuck on a puzzle too long. Luckily, most players will breeze through the conundrums and finish the game in a few hours. There's the option to replay, but there's little point since you'll have already figured out the solutions. Having said that, solving the few challenging puzzles you'll encounter here will definitely bring some satisfaction.


Hands On! Tangrams isn't very original or exciting, but the puzzles are fun to solve — if a little easy — and could easily give younger gamers a bit of a challenge. As an inexpensive download release, Hands On! Tangrams is perhaps now more appealing than in its DS retail days, where it would have been destined for bargain bins. It's good, clean fun, and for that there's little reason to complain.

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