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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
A list of the best freeware puzzle games released last year. Instructions on how to unzip .RAR and .LZH files can be found in this FAQ.

1. Blocksum
2. Acidbomb/Acidbomb 2: Rearmed
3. Clockwiser
4. Pushover
5. Twintower
6. Pozzo - Jello Crusade
7. Packin' Plax/Bombzuka
8. X-It Again
9. Hex-a-Hop
10. Zookeeper

Special mentions: Puyo, Tiltor, Slime Pod, Puzznic, Tripline, Square Cell




1. Blocksum

Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Lumines are some of the best puzzlers ever made. Soon you can add Blocksum to that equation.

The game is rather simple to learn. Join a number of tiles together by using the Z key, and their corresponding number increases. Gather a large group of blocks with the same number to make them disappear. Grey orbs can be used to remove all blocks with the same number on the field simply by connecting it to a tile.

Hold the X key to move the tiles upward. Press the C key to access a pause menu. Requires the latest DirectX version to run.

Puzzle veterans will love the possibilites of chaining up combos with this one. Highly recommended.

Name: Blocksum
Developer: Shintaro Sato, Ginger, xor
Platform: PC
Size: 32.1 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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2. Acidbomb/Acidbomb 2: Rearmed

Ac!dbomb is the latest creation from Mr. Chubigans, developer of Vivid Conceptions and Sandbox of God. The game is basically about defusing bombs, in a race against time to uncover the pistons hidden behind the tiles.

Beams of light can be used to reveal the number of pistons underneath each line of tiles. Just like Minesweeper, you can left click to mark a tile as safe or right click to designate one as a piston. The number of pistons in each level is displayed on the top right of the screen. Press the enter key to reduce the countdown to ten seconds.

A sequel was released in early 2007 though it is recommended to play the Acidbomb series in succession. Made with the intention to distribute over the Playstation Network via Playstation 3.

Name: Acidbomb/Acidbomb 2: Rearmed
Developer: Vertigo Games
Platform: PC
Size: 12.2 MB, 11.6 MB
Direct download links: Acidbomb, Acidbomb 2: Rearmed

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3. Clockwiser

Two gems in a row from Ishisoft, and it seems like the Puyo Puyo remake will make it three. A second release out only months after the excellent Pushover, Craig Forrester has now updated the Amiga favorite Clockwiser for everyone to enjoy.

The objective of the game is basically to rotate blocks belonging to the section on the left so that they match the ones shown on the right. This can only be done by drawing rectangles and moving them along it's edges, with the pull of gravity in effect at all times.

Special blocks will be introduced at a steady pace, and there are just enough configurable options to please both geniuses and beginners. An unlimited undo feature has been included, plus the doodle city is a blast to play around with.

Practically no fault to be found in this effort, hence it comes highly recommended for fans of difficult puzzlers.

Name: Clockwiser
Developer: Ishisoft
Platform: PC
Size: 4.45 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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4. Pushover

As a few of us may remember, Pushover was an excellent puzzler published by Ocean about fifteen years ago. The remake by IshiSoft features the same objective as well, to topple all dominoes found in each level. The difficult part was figuring out how to arrange certain pieces in order to successfully cause a chain reaction and finally ending up with the trigger piece being pushed.

For this reason, the protagonist can pick up and place domino pieces in key areas. Some dominoes may have special characteristics, although most are explained during the first few tutorial stages. Press the Z key to grab tiles or push a domino by using the left or right directional key with the action button. Fullscreen can be enabled under options. Later levels are rather challenging, but don't let that discourage you from downloading this fabulous remake.

Name: Pushover
Developer: Ishisoft
Platform: PC
Size: 14.8 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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5. Twintower

The objective in Twintower is to build as tall of a structure as possible on both sides of the balance by using blocks that fall from the sky. Stacking too many blocks on one side of the balance will cause everything that you have built to collapse. Use the mouse to move the balance around, and right-click to save a screenshot when your end level results are displayed.

The level ends when the player manages to stack a yellow brick on both sides. These bricks are easily identifiable by the red flag on top of each, but will only appear when you have stacked the blocks up to a certain height.

Name: Twintower
Developer: OMEGA
Platform: PC
Size: 3.60 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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6. Pozzo - Jello Crusade

In Pozzo - Jello Crusade, you play the role of a janitor named Pozzo who works for a jello restaurant. He dreams of saving up enough for a well-deserved vacation on some tropical island paradise. Unfortunately, his manager has found out that the local health inspector is dropping by for an unscheduled check.

You're given the task of cleaning up the entire premise ridden with rotten jellos before the law enforcer finds them. Fail and Pozzo can kiss his planned holiday goodbye. A lousy job indeed, compounded by the fact that Pozzo is stuck with no limbs and has to eat all the jellos that he finds.

With the story out of the way, let's get straight to the actual game. As mentioned earlier, most levels require the player to eat a lot of jellos before being allowed access to the exit. Pozzo cannot retrace his steps once he has eaten jellos off a tile. Not a very innovative concept, but Lazrael has managed to craft a superb puzzler that showcases imaginative use of tile design and graphical effects.

New tiles are introduced from time to time, which include a variety of colored blocks, switches, teleport pads and many more. Later levels provide tougher challenges as you need to plan ahead every move your protagonist has to make.
One drawback is that it uses ripped music, only because the developer could not get hold of an original music composer. The game features forty levels and two unlockable endings based on your score.

Name: Pozzo - Jello Crusade
Developer: Lazrael
Platform: PC
Size: 1.40 MB
Direct download link: http://lazrael.avalanchestudios.net/crap/pozzo.zip

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7. Packin' Plax/Bombzuka

In Packin' Plax, the player has to stack colored plaques on a table so that three of the same color are connected either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. This is done by catching the plaques using the loader object controlled by pressing the left or right arrow keys. Tap the space key to drop an object onto the table.

You can only fail to catch up to five plaques, though it's possible to replenish your chances by increasing the current level or collecting power-ups. An excellent Klax clone, with only bland textures and absence of gamepad support as minor disappointments.

xCept also released a 3D Bombuzal remake entitled Bombzuka, an item of interest for fans of the original.

Name: Packin' Plax/Bombzuka
Developer: xCept
Platform: PC
Size: 10.4 MB
Direct download links: Packin' Plax, Bombzuka

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8. X-It Again

X-It Again is an excellent remake of Psygnosis's puzzler for the Amiga, faithful in nearly every aspect. Profiles are used to save progress instead of passwords.

Much like Sokoban, most of the gameplay involves pushing blocks around to fill holes and getting your character to the exit tile. Instructions can be found inside the Documents folder, with some rather useful hints provided. All tiles are described in detail, for example glue tiles can be walked over but blocks get stuck when they are pushed onto them. At least one level contains red herrings as well.

Name: X-It Again
Developer: Puzzlehouse
Platform: PC
Size: 16.4 MB
Direct download link: http://www.puzzlehousefin.com/d/X-It.zip

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9. Hex-a-Hop

In Hex-a-Hop, your quest involves stepping on all green hexagonal tiles in each stage to make them disappear.

You can take as long as you need to figure out a solution. New tiles are introduced during your journey with adequate instructions. Later stages include walls, trampolines, frozen tiles and more.

Some level hints can be found on the web site as well. Considered by Jimmy of PC Logic Games as the best Game of the Year, slightly ahead of the other favorite Armadillo Run.

Name: Hex-a-Hop
Developer: Tom Beaumont
Platform: PC, Linux
Size: 1 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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10. Zookeeper, Kiteretsu: Zookeeper, Kiteretsu: Solitaire

No Top Ten lists about puzzlers are complete without a mention of Zookeeper. Kiteretsu's remake is an updated version of the perennial favorite with several changes that would please admirers of the original. Just like it's predecessor, your task is basically to swap tiles around to make matches of three or more. Remove a certain number of tiles as stated on the top right of the screen to proceed to the next level.

Tiles can be moved without the wait for combos to end, plus the help button shows all possible matches instead of one chosen at random. There's a pause and mute option included as well. Definitely a keeper.

For Mahjong solitaire fans, Kiteretsu's offering is a very good clone with cute graphics and colorful tiles. Standard features such as continues, password saves, hints, shuffle and a useful undo option are all available in this package.

Name: Zookeeper, Kiteretsu: Zookeeper, Kiteretsu: Solitaire
Developer: ROBOT, Zip Bear Town
Type: Browser Game

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Special mention: Puyo

Notable mentions:

Tiltor

Tiltor is a game made using AGS, but surprisingly there's not a single element of adventure to be found in this effort. It's actually a linear puzzler that requires the use of only four buttons for all actions, including menu selection and saving your progress.

The objective in each level is to get a red block to the exit by tilting the screen left and right. Note that the only way to quit is by pressing the left alternate and F4 function key at the same time, though this is just a minor hassle.

Features over a hundred and fifty stages, plus an additional arcade mode that you just can't say no to. Deceptively simple but fun to play, owing much to it's simplistic controls.

Name: Tiltor
Developer: AH productions
Platform: PC
Size: 4.81 MB
Direct download link: http://tiltor.googlepages.com/Tiltor_setup.exe

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Slime Pod

Slime Pod is a rather manic puzzler by Kaeshirodai, in which the objective is to make eight or more connecting slimes disappear thus creating a Giganto combo.

The number of combos needed for level progression are shown at the bottom left of the screen. Gems count as three slimes, and combos made with the evil eye are rejected outright. You can lose the evil eye by making it fall off the bottom of the screen. They can also be destroyed if you rapidly click on them, although this will cost you five magic points.

There is no penalty for clicking on any number of slimes, but you have to create the number of Giganto combos required in each level before time runs out. Energy can be replenished by making a Giganto combo of any color.

Name: Slime Pod
Developer: Kaeshirodai
Platform: PC
Size: 0.67 MB
Direct download link: http://g-indus.hp.infoseek.co.jp/games/slime_castam.lzh

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Puzznic

Puzznic is Retrodev's remake of Taito's classic arcade puzzler with a few new elements not found in the original. The gameplay involves pushing blocks with the same symbols to touch each other in order to make them disappear. Remove all blocks within the time limit to proceed to the next level.

Left click to move a block to the left, likewise for the opposite direction. None of that casual match three action here, later stages require plenty of brainpower to solve.

Name: Puzznic
Developer: RetroDev Games
Platform: PC
Size: 6.64 MB
Direct download link: http://www.retrodev.co.uk/RetroGames/Puzznic.zip

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Tripline

Tripline is a decent puzzler by Joakim Sandberg, developer of Noitu Love and the Army of Grinning Darns. The objective of the game is to draw a line across all shapes in each level, but three shapes with the same pattern must first be crossed out in a sequence before another can be engaged.

There are sixty pages to flip through. Pretty good for an effort made in three days.

Name: Tripline
Developer: Joakim Sandberg
Platform: PC
Size: 3.14 MB
Direct download link: http://www.konjak.org/tripline.zip

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Square Cell

Essentially a match three game, but with a twist. Only horizontal rows will disappear, and the player can only achieve this by clicking and stacking rows of blocks in an attempt to arrange them in an order that will cause this effect. Includes an online high score submission feature, implemented seamlessly into the game.

Name: Square Cell
Developer: JaJ
Platform: PC
Size: 2.18 MB
Direct download link: http://www.jajproductions.nl/SquareCell.zip

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5 Comments:
Anonymous mgroves said at 2/20/2007 06:38:00 AM:  
Blocksum looks really fun, but for the life of me I could never get it to work.
Blogger Shaheen said at 2/20/2007 11:19:00 AM:  
Have you installed the Microsoft .NET junk? That might be what's stopping it from working.
Blogger gnome said at 2/21/2007 11:49:00 AM:  
Another brilliant Top 10 Tim. Oh, and GameSetWatch blogged you again. Ahh, such a quality blog...
Anonymous Jake Birkett said at 2/21/2007 03:00:00 PM:  
Yowzers you have been busy!
Anonymous Popoyt said at 5/19/2007 05:30:00 AM:  
Blocksum really is a must-have, everyone should try this game !

(ps : thanks to Tim for this awesome website !)