By Mike Riley on Wed, 09/15/2010
The White House needs its erasers and calls upon U.S. Department of Puzzle Research agent Nelson Tethers to solve the mystery of why the supplier, the Scoggins Eraser Company, is unable to deliver them.
After easing gamers in with an entertaining introduction followed by a simple jigsaw puzzle, players find themselves in the in the town of Scoggins ready to unravel the mystery. The story provides a corny framework to hang puzzles on, ranging from cakewalks to brain twisters. None of them are overly difficult to solve. Puzzle hints can be acquired by collecting wads of gum; each wad can be used toward solving the variety of puzzles, ranging from riddles and mazes to shape and logic challenges. The graphic stylings of cartoonist and Puzzle Agent designer Graham Annable is lovingly applied throughout the story and the various game screens, and help maintain a connection to the imaginary situation of the adventure.
Being an old school PC gamer, Puzzle Agent HD reminded me of an early '90's classic puzzle adventure game called Are We There Yet. While far more graphically and sonically appealing, the premise of solving a variety of visual and mental puzzles to move on to the next segment of the story is old, but still effective. Unfortunately, Telltale chose not to randomize the puzzle pieces or their solutions. So like Are We There Yet, replay value is nearly non-existent.
Another annoyance is the fact that beyond the higher resolution graphics available on the iPad, no other difference exists between it and the slightly less expensive iPhone edition. This elevated pricing game is a marketing ploy that I wish game developers would not practice. If developers want to be paid for the extra compensation needed to make an iPad game, they should at the very least make the title a universal application so that it is optimized for both the iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch devices. Penalizing iPad users for nothing more than higher resolution comes off looking greedy, even if the developer has legitimate development and marketing reasons for the higher price. Ultimately, I would like to see all new game titles to one day be iOS-optimized irregardless of the hardware so that gamers don't have to purchase two differently priced versions of the same game running on the same operating system.
iPad gaming rant aside, Puzzle Agent HD is a cute, entertaining and occasionally challenging puzzle adventure. The animation isn't cutting edge, but the drawn characterizations are charming and the audio is playfully campy. While I do wish there was a way to toggle off the speech balloons at times, at least players can touch the screen to speed up these story segments. Overall, Puzzle Agent HD is a good game from the Telltale Games crew that with a little more polish and random playability, could have been a real gem.
Product: Puzzle Agent HD
Developer: Telltale Games
Price: $6.99 US
Rating: 3/5 stars