You'd be forgiven for not being familiar with Ubisoft's Puzzler series. Based on an ongoing magazine, the first game saw release in 2008 as Puzzler Collection, which was then followed up by Puzzler World in 2009. The games contained numerous puzzle types ranging from crosswords and Sudoku to more obscure games such as Link-A-Pix and Pieceword. Now we have this year's edition in the form of Puzzler World 2011, which boasts over 1,200 different puzzles and, for what it offers, it does so rather well.
Unlike in the previous releases, there's two different modes available, Challenge and Master. The former is the main mode, offering 560 puzzles across each of the different types of games. Completing these also unlocks a set bonus puzzles, which often implement different rules such as time limits. You can save your progress in the middle of these puzzles, and there's also an achievement system available similar to those seen in Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles where players can earn trophies as they go through the puzzles, a nice addition.
In the new Master Mode, puzzles are unlocked by beating those in Challenge Mode, and here they're generally more difficult. The game gives you a much larger grid in Link-A-Pix, for example, and makes objects harder to find in the Hide and Seek games. It certainly adds some variety, and for anyone looking for more of a challenge than the puzzles in Challenge Mode, Master Mode does a good job.
Throughout the game, you can use hints if you are ever stuck, with three different options available depending on how much help you want. To utilise them, though, you'll have to earn hint tokens that you earn upon completing a puzzle, and the larger the hint you want, the more tokens it will cost. When you finish a round, you are presented with a spin-the-wheel game, and wherever it stops will decide just how many tokens you get. This is a well-implemented system as while it offers you help, it doesn't make it too easy for you.
While all of this works rather well, the controls are a bit of a mixed experience. You hold the DS on its side just like in Hotel Dusk and Brain Training, and everything is controlled via the touch screen. This interface is well-suited for puzzle games, as when you drag the stylus across the screen when doing a word search or between boxes in Link-A-Pix, just like you would do in a pen and paper version of the game. The only problem here occurs in games that involve writing –sometimes Puzzler World has trouble picking up your handwriting for certain words and letters, but fortunately you can choose a letter or number you would like to “Train” the game to recognise so that it will pick up your handwriting better.
Graphically, the game is nothing special, using a simple but very colourful design that works fairly well. Audio-wise, it doesn't have much outside of some generic, looping music in the menus while all puzzles are played without any background music.
For anyone who likes a good puzzle game, Puzzler World 2011 is for you. With over 1,200 puzzles and a wide range of different games available, it'll keep you interested for a while, and it comes at a nice budget price as well.