Pac-Man Puzzle might look bland, but that didn't stop Namco from cramming the game full of devilishly difficult brain benders.
Namco's Pac-Man Puzzle both delighted and frustrated me with its steep difficulty, in later levels. If you're not the type of gamer who is willing to fail again and again (and again) to trial-and-error your way to a scenario's solution, then you should stay far, far away. If, on the other hand, you enjoy logic games and don't mind crunching away at the same puzzle off and on for days until a solution presents itself, Pac-Man Puzzle is a good addition to your mobile library.
The game features 50 puzzles, with Pac-Man, pellets, and (sometimes) ghosts already placed. Gamers are given a handful of Tetris-like blocks to place around the levels themselves. The goal is place your blocks in such a way that Pac-Man eats all the pellets before being nabbed by a ghost.
Once all your pieces are set, the action plays out automatically, and Pac-Man and the ghosts move according to predetermined rules, ala Chu Chu Rocket. If Pac-Man hits a wall he turns left. He turns right if both front and left are blocked by walls, and will move backwards if all three directions are blocked.
So the challenge becomes setting up your handful of blocks in such a way that Pac-Man follows increasingly-complex paths that will allow him to nab all the pellets without getting caught in a loop or caught by a ghost. It starts off easily enough, but the difficulty curve isn't really gradual at all. By the time I got into the teens I would begin levels with four blocks to place and so much empty space I wasn't even sure where to begin. The puzzle get hard.
Still, through diligence I was able to use deduction, logic, and (mostly) trial-and-error to first get a feel for the path Pac-Man must take to achieve victory, and then how to make that happen, with the blocks I had available to me. For most of the puzzles, anyway. It's a great feeling, because unlike most puzzle games there are no accidental solutions. You can't just randomly place the pieces for two or three attempts and stumble upon half or all the solution. To pass a puzzle you have to understand it inside and out.
Pac-Man Puzzle is a bit lacking in its presentation, with almost no sound, plain black backgrounds, and sparse animations. With that in mind, the type of gamer who will enjoy the entertaining (albeit repetitious) gameplay probably doesn't care. The appeal is to the same group of people who enjoy Sudoku puzzles, and no one solves them for the graphics.
Puzzle fans should give it a try. Others should stay away, less they receive a harsh lesson in frustration.
What's Hot: Puzzles are genuinely challenging, even early on
What's Not: Extremely bland presentation