Puzzle Monkeys is a block dropping game that reminds me of Dr. Mario in more ways than one. It’s picked a classic game for inspiration, and the addition of monkeys are worth an extra point just on their own! The foundation is strong, even if the game isn’t quite as addictive as hoped. It does many things well though, and should be a solid choice for puzzle fans.
Mode A has you matching colors in the time-honored way, but now you’ll be doing so via square shapes. The change isn’t necessarily for the better, but the different take does bring an element of freshness to otherwise familiar gameplay. One change that is absolutely for the better is the allowance for lining colors up diagonally! It can only hold my attention for so long, but all in all it offers some challenging short-term entertainment. Mode B has colored blocks steadily scrolling along the top you need to drop appropriately. This mode is certainly interesting (and tough!), but after a few minutes I wanted to go back to Mode A. Still, having two distinct modes is appreciated.
Both modes boast of unique GamePad use, something we need to see more of. In truth it’s a bit of PR overselling, but the controls are rather clever and responsive. One thing they may not be though, is intuitive. Perhaps I was a bit slow when first playing, but I totally neglected to use the oversized icons, at least when playing Mode A! The touchscreen lets you destroy certain blocks, adding a sizably fun layer of strategy to the proceedings. My meager description doesn’t do it enough credit. I suggest giving the digital manual a thorough read before starting, and practicing on the slowest speed setting to maximize your enjoyment.
After my wife and I each took turns with different modes we searched for multiplayer, Mode C. How surprised and disappointed we were to find no support for two players. Some may point to the $2.99 price, but I would gladly spend a couple extra bucks if it meant I could play with friends!
Puzzle Monkeys has basic visuals. They’re nothing to get excited about, but the graphics suffice for a puzzle game. There are a few choices for backgrounds which helps. The music fares a bit better. There are three songs to pick from, and I found track B kinda catchy. I wish the monkey theme was better represented though.
In an increasingly crowded field of Wii U puzzlers, does Puzzle Monkeys do much to stand out? Perhaps not a great deal, but I think it does enough. It’s a modest download in many ways (at a budget price) with some commendable elements, though your enjoyment may depend on how many other eShop puzzlers you’ve sampled. I have plenty (including Dr. Luigi) so that might explain why the game wasn’t as strong a draw for me initially (coupled with my confusion, and the missing multiplayer). Stick with it though, and the game will likely grow on you.
Puzzle Monkeys is definitely worth a look for the solo puzzle gamer. It functions well, has unique control. and even online leaderboards. The simple audio-visual package and lack of multiplayer may give some pause, but this is still a very respectable Wii U début for Log Games. I wish them success on the console, and look forward to their next (and hopefully more ambitious) eShop game.