While playing Braid there was one thing that stuck out at me. Why hasn't anyone made a game where you put together jigsaw picture puzzles like those found in that game? Low and behold Eidos has answered the call with Puzzle Arcade for the Xbox Live Arcade. Like many of you, I'm sure you have fond memories of putting puzzles together with family, and thankfully Puzzle Arcade allows you to relive your childhood playing cooperatively with up to 4 players both locally and online.
So why would you need a digital jigsaw puzzle game? Like anything in digital form, there are some advantages. The game has 35 traditional style puzzles (yes there's a kitten one) that each let you play in 3 different puzzle piece shapes; traditional, rounded and angles. Not only can you choose the shape of the pieces, you can choose the number of pieces from twenty five to over a thousand pieces. There's also "dynamic" puzzles which slightly change over time as you put them together. It's not as hard as it sounds, for instance one such puzzle had a city scape change from day into night and back. Along with these puzzles there is a free "Puzzle of the Week" when connected to Xbox Live as well as the ability to make your own puzzles by using the Xbox Live vision camera. That's right you can make infinite kitty puzzles, perhaps even one of your very own fluffy.
The co-op mode works as you might expect, each player has a cursor to control and can place puzzle pieces. It's just like sitting at the dining room table with a good old fashion puzzle but without that woody smell. There's two ways to organize pieces, classic and turbo. Classic modes is just like dumping a gigantic box on your table with all the pieces everywhere, while turbo stacks and arranges pieces on the left side for quick and easy access. And if you want to add a dash of competition to your co-op experience, the game tracks how many pieces you've put together and even adds a scoring meta game on top of it. My wife liked to complain that I was "stealing her pieces" - I tried to tell her it wasn't a game...but then I bragged about my score at the end.
There are a few quirks. You can't save progress in co-op, which basically makes big puzzles kind of pointless. It should also be noted that the "Turbo" mode can only be played with 2 players, not 4.
For the price of a normal thousand piece puzzle, you'll get a seemingly limitless game that you can share with your partner, your kids, and anyone else in your family. It truly is a game that anyone can play and anyone can enjoy, and a great way to play together. Of course the best thing about the game is no missing puzzle pieces...and of course the kitties!