In the Dog House
Another new release from Nitrome has just arrived, and this one takes a page from the Rooms book of design to create a cute sliding puzzle game. In the Dog House tasks you with sliding rooms around a grid to create a path from the dog to the dogfood in the kitchen. To encourage the pup to move, simply grab the bone and drop it somewhere in the house. You'll also have to contend with mechanical contraptions such as elevators and security gates, not to mention the tempting distractions of a cat!
Rather than giving you free control over moving every piece on the board, In the Dog House restricts which tiles can be moved and often in which direction they can slide. The wallpaper markings serve as clues to let you know how each piece will move, whether it's fixed, or even if it only rotates in place. Once you know what you can work with, its time to clear a path for the dog.
Just like in Rooms: The Main Building, your character can move through any space that's logical, i.e. up stairs, across halls, etc. This puppy can't pass through walls or jump through ceilings, unfortunately. The challenge is usually classic sliding puzzle fare where you must create a picture (pathway) and must move blocks in every direction to get them where they need to be. Other times you need to solve special puzzles or stop the dog in the middle of a hallway so you can rearrange tiles for the last leg of his journey.
Analysis: More than a simple sliding tile game, In the Dog House is very similar to Rooms in design, which is definitely a good thing. It does carve its own path, however, with fun environmental puzzles and the added challenge of immovable tiles. Also, any space with a creature running around, whether it's that darn cat or your very own puppy, becomes temporarily fixed in place, and sometimes you'll have to get the pets to scuttle along before you can finish the puzzle.
As the game's 40 levels go by, you'll encounter increasingly complex puzzles and mechanisms to deal with. More difficult rooms tend to focus on immovable pieces and increased trial-and-error sliding, something I never really liked in sliding puzzle games. But the premise is there, it's engaging, and the game has Nitrome's usual artistic flair that sets it one shelf higher than most Flash game releases. In the Dog House is good solid fun.