Hands-On Preview: Hands On! Tangrams (DS)

Island Officials is looking to bring the most popular puzzle craze from the East since Sudoku to the Nintendo DS, and with the simplicity of the title, Hands On! Tangrams should be a perfect fit for the system. The premise has players manipulating five right triangles (two small, two large and one medium in size), a square and a rhombus so they match up over a silhouette to form an image. The puzzles aren’t the easiest the solve, so those that like to think should be tied up with more than 100 brain busting images housed on the game’s cart.

Ryan Morrison, producer and co-founder of Island Officials, had a hands-on Hands On! at the recent VGXPO held in Philadelphia, allowing me to get a little bit of time on the game. The controls were naturally simple – players tap on a piece to select it and can drag it to wherever they wish with the stylus, and pressing a button rotates the piece so players can aim to fit the piece into the silhouette. Everything operated just like I expected it to, it’s just a shame I stink at these spatial relation-type puzzles. Even so, I gave it the ol’ college try and walked away enjoying the experience.

As I pointed out earlier, the game will have more than 100 puzzles to solve, and each of these puzzle images are grouped into themes such as “Zoo.” This ensures players will get a variety of objects that are amazingly formed from seven basic shapes. The art in the game is hand-drawn, and while one might not call the graphics detailed, the art pops off the screen in a colorful, storybook-style way that naturally goes hand-in-hand with the puzzles. Adding to the game’s presentation, if the player can manage to properly fill the silhouette, the pieces meld together and form a more-detailed, animated caricature of the image. I’ll have to admit it was too loud at the expo to hear the title’s audio, but so far, Island Officials has managed to piece together a decent combination of art and involving puzzles.

The title comes in as Island Officials’ first commercial release, with a teaser placed on its official site for another game entitled We Love Cake. We’ll be able to see if the New Jersey-based developer’s first effort will be a successful one when the title releases on its planned release date of Nov. 17.



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