Crime Puzzle is what I call a “Match 3” type game. You have a board of tiles that you flip horizontally or vertically with other tiles trying to match three or more at a time. There are many games like it, but Crime Puzzle has added a new twist on this old theme. In this game you are working through a storyline trying to solve a mystery. The story begins:
”Sir Reginald Dawson was very upset when he came to my office.And you are on your way to following the mystery of the missing stamp collection. The game is divided into levels and stages. In each stage you have to match stamps until all the tile backgrounds have turned from brown to red. The early levels are pretty easy. You only have four different types of stamps on an 8x8 grid. As you advance to later stages there are more stamp types added, so the chance of having the sort of stamp you need lined up right decreases. As you pass each level, you will have a chance to earn bonus points in a bonus round. These bonus rounds are really tough to beat, however. In the center of the board is a 4x4 board with a gold background, around the outside the squares have a red background. Your goal in the bonus round is to get all the red balls onto the red squares and all the gold ones onto the gold squares. I’ve tried this multiple times and have yet to succeed in the amount of time given. The regular levels in the mystery game are well balanced to become increasingly harder as you pass each level.
“Last night two mysterious men paid him a visit. One of them was a Russian count Vladimirov. A man with style and money. The other, Chinese, was his servant. Quiet and humble man, he was always looking down. The count was interested to by some of the post stamps from the rare collection of Sir Dawson. Obviously, the count’s offer was not acceptable to Sir Dawson, so he refused to sell. The count lost his temper, and started yelling and cursing in Russian. As he and his servant left the house, the Chinese turned around and glanced at Sir Dawson. His face was twisted with anger.
“The next morning the whole collection was gone!
“I took the case.
“One of the first clues led right here to New York City. Where are the other clues? Well, that is a true mystery.”
After the first level, which has just two stages and is really mostly learning the basics of the game, the second level adds more stamp types. Here you will want to try to find combinations of five where possible, in order to clear the board faster. If you combine five stamps of the same type in a move, all the stamps of that type are removed from the board, thus creating many “follow-up” combinations. In fact I once cleared a Level 1, Stage 2 board in just two moves because of this “combination of five” rule. That was a pretty amazing moment. After you’ve passed the stages in Level 2, you move on to Level 3. Level 3 adds umbrellas and windowed squares. Matching three or more umbrella’s doesn’t turn the background square from brown to red, but it does increase a second bar that, when filled, enables the umbrella ability. As you play through Level 3, the longer you play the more boxes become covered by what looks like a closed window shade. You can still swap with stamps that are behind these closed windows, but you can’t see them, so you either have to use your memory, or use the umbrella ability when it is available to clear them out. Once again, it just adds a but more difficulty to the game as you go through these levels. I have to confess that I have only once made it to Level 4, so I’m not sure what happens to increase the difficulty at this level. But I don’t mind at all the challenge that trying to get to this level, and beyond, poses. I know that someday I’ll do it if I just keep playing long enough.
The game also has a “classic mode” and “relaxed mode.” In the classic mode, the timer bar increases as you make matches, and decreases as time passes. The object is to fill up the timer bar in order to pass each level. Relaxed mode is just what it sounds like. There are no timers and no real goals other than to score as high as possible. It is a great way to warm up and improve your game for the mystery mode of the game. You are really just challenging yourself to see the best combinations as quickly as possible in relaxed mode.
There are a few things I wish they had done which would make the game more friendly for people of a wider age range. I wish that when you started as a new player you could pick to start as either a beginner, or more advanced player. Beginners would have more time available than more advanced players, so that the game didn’t “ramp up” in difficulty quite so fast. And the bonus levels do seem to be much too hard compared to the normal levels that surround them. There isn’t a bonus level which you can easily solve the way there are normal levels. But put those two wishes aside and Crime Puzzle is a great game.
My kids haven’t played it much because it gets too difficult too quickly for them, and they don’t really enjoy the storyline which makes me want to play further, but it is one that I come back to time and again. It doesn’t take long to play through a level, and the game can be paused if you need to walk away and do something else. You can also play in either full screen or windowed mode, which also makes it nice for multi-tasking. And because all the controls are through the mouse, it is easy to play with one hand while feeding the baby or talking on the phone with the other. I come back to the game time and again when I just need a little mental challenge without wanting to become involved in a long game. It combines a bit of the storyline sort of games I like, with the puzzle games that I enjoy so much, so Crime Puzzle is great for someone who games like I do. I highly recommend it.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.