Capsule Review: Bonza Jigsaw

A jigsaw-like puzzle game with an international theme. Photos and a few drawings from a variety of countries are divided into rectilinear, Tetris-like pieces that the player must arrange to reconstruct the image.

Gameplay is kept uncluttered and manageable on a phone’s screen by focusing only on usable pieces. You start every puzzle with only two pieces; once these are combined several more are added, but only ones that can be used to connect to other pieces you have so far. As you use up this set, more pieces are added, until the full puzzle is present and you can complete the entire image. This is a great system that means that starting a new puzzle is never overwhelming.

Each puzzle is also available in one of a handful of variant modes - these include Rotation (pieces must be rotated to the correct orientation before they can be joined), Mirror (some pieces are flipped and must be flipped back before they can be placed), Blind (pieces fade to transparency and must be tapped periodically to be seen), Blitz (a timer is constantly running out and can only be refilled by joining pieces successfully), and the only one that I find at all enjoyable, Patience (it’s the same puzzle, but blown up much larger and thus split into more pieces that take longer to put back together). On top of this are challenge puzzles that combine two of these modifiers together to create a more difficult experience.

Unfortunately, the game is damaged somewhat by its free-to-play presentation. Completing puzzles and correctly answering a simple daily geography question award “gold pieces” which gradually increase your “level” - hitting certain levels unlocks more packs of puzzles. You can get more gold pieces by watching ads or you can spend real money to directly buy level-ups or puzzle packs, which the game clearly wants you to do: when you finish the puzzles in a pack, you’re taken not to your next available pack, but to a menu screen that includes purchaseable packs as well. It’s relatively unobtrusive as these things go, but still disruptive and I’d have much preferred to just pay ten bucks or whatever once to remove the level system and play with no nagging.

I Stopped Playing When: After working my way through a few packs, I got tired of the nudges to watch ads or spend money. Their cumulative effect made the game less pleasant of an experience and it was no longer a relaxing way to kill time on my phone.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.