Have you ever been playing Bejewelled and thought to yourself, "what this game really needs is rockets"? Me neither.
Puzzlegeddon is a title that doesn't know quite which genre to be. Part block puzzle, part tower defence and part strategy, it's the brainchild of Pieces Interactive, a small European developer that it's perfectly acceptable to have never heard of before.
Essentially, Puzzlegeddon challenges you to create combinations of blocks on a 6x6 grid. The blocks come in four colours, and each coloured block must be aligned in multiples of five or more, which are then cleared from the puzzle grid with a mouse click.
Once these rows of five or more blocks have been removed, you will receive a bonus. Red blocks provide an attack, green defends, yellow disrupts and blue boosts your abilities. Each attack has three tiers, so the more sequences of blocks you remove, the stronger your abilities become.
Assuming you're still awake, you may be wondering what the point of this ability accumulation is. You'll be pleased to know that Pieces Interactive have anticipated your concern and included several worthy AI opponents, none of which have any real personality to speak of, yet all appear to be ferociously good at the game.
As you rummage around the play grid shuffling lines of blocks together and quietly wishing you were playing Bejewelled instead, your enemy will launch wave after wave of attacks on you. It's rather annoying that they manage to accumulate so many attacks so quickly, as it's physically impossible to move the mouse fast enough to gain an attack within the first few seconds of play. More to the point, it's impossible to defend against such a quick attack as well, so essentially most games start with a healthy handicap against the human player.
Not to worry, should you die (or rather, when you die) instead of rage quitting to your desktop you'll be able to play a ghoulish mini-game. This game consists of creating combinations of blocks on a 6x6 grid. The blocks come in four different patterns (bones, bats, skulls and coffins) and each pattern must be aligned in multiples of five or more, which are then cleared from the puzzle grid with a mouse click. That's right, it's basically the same game with a Halloween mask on.
After being schooled repeatedly by the annoyingly accurate AI, you'll be able to move on to different themed play areas within the main universe. These have suitably outlandish names such as "Folly Roger", where you can plunder your opponents resources and remember how cool actual pirate games are. There's "Sly Sub", which consists of launching underhanded attacks, "Monster Mansion", which will improve your attacks, and literally four others that we simply can't reveal as it'd be criminal to ruin the surprise.
Along with these different zones, two different play modes are included. You can battle it out against the aforementioned AI in either a time-based deathmatch, or a last-man-standing Battle Royale. There's also a "poison peril" mode in which you compete to simply survive on your planet.
Online multiplayer technically exists, although as nobody was playing online at the time of this review, it may as well not. LAN play is possible too, so if you have any friends who share your fascination with brightly coloured blocks you'll be able to click the hours away together.
The system requirements aren't high, so any PC with graphics acceleration that was bolted together during the Bush administration will probably work. Fortunately, a demo is available, and we highly recommend you download and try it before actually purchasing the game. We tried to, but the site was down - your results may vary.
It may come as a surprise that puzzle block games aren't really my thing. That's not to say that Puzzlegeddon isn't worthy of your time - it's a solid little title that despite a complete lack of online community will still appeal to the PopCap/Puzzle crowd who get a morbid kick out of making things line up in rows.
It's difficult to rate such a niche title, as no doubt fans will become addicted, but as those fans will be few and far between I think we can safely assume this one will struggle to achieve anything but mediocre success.