Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Obscure Retro Gem - Pieces (Super Nintendo)

There ain't no party like a jigsaw party!

A videogame adaptation of a jigsaw puzzle sounds like an extremely dull prospect, right? Well surprisingly, no, it transpires that it can actually be damn good fun. Pieces (or Jigsaw Party as it is known in Japan) is a puzzle game that simply tasks you with putting the correct pieces of the picture in the right places - I am sure you all know how a jigsaw puzzle works. 

Pieces pits you against a selection of zany characters who seem to hold a grudge against you for reasons not explained. From a large red crab and angry pig, to a geeky guy with a tongue deformity and a giggling mermaid, these oddballs are your opponents in a split screen duel to assemble an image you are shown for a few seconds. Each match consists of three pictures, which you complete in succession - the first to complete all three is the winner. What elevates it above the level of snooze-fest is the colourful and cheerful nature of the presentation, and the addition of power-ups that can assist you during each game. By slotting in pieces in quick succession you earn special items that can be used at any time to help you, or hinder your opponent. These range from clues to the correct position of your currently selected piece, revealing the image in the background for a short while, to slowing down your opponent's cursor and hiding their forthcoming pieces from view. 

Much like the majority of console puzzle games, you can play against the CPU if you are on your lonesome, but it is the 2-player versus mode that really shines. The same rules apply as in the single player mode but the addition of a human opponent makes a world of difference, increasing the excitement and tension tenfold. If one player finishes their image first, you really feel the pressure to catch up looming over you, which can lead to mistakes being made as you rush your moves - and it is this frantic competitiveness that makes Pieces so addictive.

As well as the standard versus matches, there is another mode specifically designed for two human players. All Play mode (as it is known) grants you the chance to select your image genre of choice - including animals, dinosaurs, planes, sports and famous world landmarks - and work together to complete the image, while trying to gain a higher score than your opponent by laying down more pieces in the correct place. Occasional flashing pieces will appear, the correct placement of which grants the player in question a random score bonus, or maybe nothing at all.  It's another great addition to the game and is equally as enjoyable as the, more frantic, versus mode.

With its quirky characters, jolly music, and varied selection of colourful images to piece (sorry) together, Pieces not only manages the unenviable task of making jigsaw puzzles fun, but also provides some fantastic two player puzzle action, and so comes highly recommended.

Title : Pieces 
Developer : Prism Kikaku
Year : 1994
System : Super Nintendo