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Building a Zen Garden
Checking back over my recent reviews of game titles, revealed that I had been neglecting one of my favourite genre of gaming playing activity. The neglected genre was that of nanograms.
Since I last took a look at the family of penguins and their close affinity with challenging the player with nanogram puzzles, several different versions of the game have appeared. For those not too familiar with the game genre of nanograms I should explain that the object of the game is to create mosaic type images using coloured tiles that need to be positioned on a grid using various numeric clues and other hints. The clue are arranged at the start of the rows and columns making up the grid on which the mosaic will be formed. In a way the game of nanogram seems to be based on the old Sherlock game, that some may remember, where the players had to eliminate the impossible to achieve success.
Since last looking at the Match Gems created offerings, the game series has advanced from the 28th version of the product to the current 34th edition entitled Zen Garden. Actually the title of this 34th offering might imply a relaxing trip into the Zen Garden domain of the nanogram-loving penguins. but it did have a habit of increasing my frustration levels as I will explain a little later.
Following the well-established pattern built up over the numerous earlier games in this type of game play, you can make certain adjustments to the gaming environment. You can adjust the volume levels for both background music and sound effects, There is also a choice of full-screen display and a four-colour pattern used to create but, not totally restrictive, the various mosaic type images. The game offers the player three levels of difficulty, namely Casual, Advanced and Zen, with varying degrees of help to assist the player when creating the mosaic images on the various grids.
Taking over most of the screen area is the grid on which the mosaic style images will be created, A series of numbers are positioned at the top and left side of the rows and columns making up the grid. The numbers displayed on each column and row of the grid indicate now many cells with need to be blocked in using the currently selected colour. Each block of coloured cells, whether in a row or column, will need to be followed by at least one blank cell. In this way the various components of the mosaic image will be built up.
Running alongside of the grid is an area made up of the tools available to the player. Heading this area is the number of free moves that might have been earned with the current grid. The positioning on these free moves is entirely random and you do need to be observant as their positioning happens quickly and then disappears. Palettes representing the different colours for the image come next.
Initially only one palette might be available but others are unlocked as you make progress. in some cases, this single palette option will last for almost the entire creation of the image apart from some minor decorations and embellishments. I found this state of affairs to be extremely frustrating. Once the necessary progress has been made and new palettes unlocked then the player can switch between the different colours as they are stacked on top of each other as the mosaic is built up. Each grid will need to be completed before a set number of errors is reached. Failure to do so will require the grid to be replayed
As each mosaic image is completed you will be informed as to what it is meant to be. Often this information is necessary as some of the images are not particularly obvious. I sometimes struggled to identify the image created until help arrived in the form of its title. You will also receive a star award depending upon your performance and the number of mistakes made.
Perhaps, due to my aging failing eyesight, I did have one issues with the font used to display the numbers for each row and column. While those numbers still available were easily seen, those used tor blocks already entered were extremely hard to notice and often caused me to make a mistake as I failed to notice their presence.
Overall I felt that this version of nanograms was more difficult than previous editions of the product. I do feel that the game would have benefitted from being better graded as to the difficulty of each grid as you progress through the areas making up the Zen Garden.
You can download a copy of this game from Gamehouse.com where the product is price at $9.99. System requirements call for a 1.6 GHz with 1024 MB of RAM running Windows 7 and later.
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