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Fantasy Mosaics 6
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For those not familiar with the Griddler, nonogram or Hanjie type of puzzles, I should explain what these addictive puzzles involve. The puzzle’s basic playing field consists of a grid of cells arranged in rows and columns. Aligned along the top of the columns and down the left side of the rows are a series of numbers. These numbers provide the clues as to which cells in that row or column need to be blocked in by the player. Each number indicates how many consecutive cells there are in a block with each block being followed by at least one blank cell. Once all the columns and rows have been completed, an image of sorts will be displayed on the grid.
Unlike the other puzzles of this types that have taken up numerous hours of my time, Fantasy Mosaics 6: Into the Unknown adds a couple of extra features I have not encountered before. This game introduces both colour and switchable layers into the mix as you build up a three-colour image from the cells.
From the game’s main title screen you can create individual profiles for different named players. These profiles allow you to adjust the volume levels for sound effects and background music, play in full screen more and choose from Casual or Advanced difficulty levels. Actually there is just a minor difference between these two levels with Casual greying out each of the numbers one by one while Advanced only carries out this task once the complete row or column have been completed. While I have described it as minor, this difference can affect the ease at which you can solve the puzzles.
As part of the game’s title might indicate, Fantasy Mosaics takes you on a trip to a mysterious place on a distant planet. This unknown place is a garden from which a penguin (don’t ask) takes you on various expeditions to explore areas of the planet to discover objects. Each expedition is broken up into five sections made up of an individual item which, due to the blocky nature of the grid system, often require a degree of creative imagination to work out what they are. Fortunately the title of each image is revealed when it is completed.
While the grid takes over most of the screen area, there is a panel running down the right side of the grid which contains power-ups and other information. Power-up are earned by correctly identifying cells that need filling in. Finding blank cells does not seem to count towards earning power-ups. The easiest power-ups to earn are penguins and pickaxes. A penguin will reveal a random cell that needs filling in while a pickaxe will identify whether a chosen cell is filled or blank. There is also a sun power-up which reveals the content of a 3 x 3 mini grid arranges around a chosen cell.
The panel also provides the means of switch between the three colours that are featured in each image. By clicking on the colour button you can cycle between the three colours. This action also changes the layout as cells are automatically identified as being blank while giving you a choice of which cells might contain the selected colour. By switching between the different colours and filling in cells you can often help reduce the choices available with the other colours and so solve the puzzle.
At the conclusion of each puzzle level you are shown the time taken to solve the particular level. You will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze cup depending upon your performance. This award screen also contains the discovered image and its title.
While I found this game to be addictive, others might not and quickly become bored with its repetitive nature. I do have some minor criticisms. If it had not been for the title of the image appearing, I would have struggles to identify what some of them were. Also I felt that the difficulty of the images was rather hap-dash with some of the more complex ones appearing before easier ones arriving later.
It was not until I had completed the final grid of the main game that I encountered an annoying problem. As a bonus item you are meant to play a series of computer generated grids and images. However once the first of these grids has been completed an error message appears and the game shuts down. This is a disappointing ending to an enjoyable puzzle game.
Fantasy Mosaics 6: Into the Unknown is available from numerous download sites such as Gamehouse.com or Bigfishgames.com on a trial basis before purchasing the full product. System requirements call for a 1.6GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM running Windows XP and later.
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