Puzzle Boy Flash
You know if your parents name you Puzzle Boy, you're not going to be captain of the football team. No, you'll be eating a lot of dodgeballs in gym class, and taking abuse from the likes of Bully Guy and Pretty Girl. You will hide behind the pages of your crossword collection, your Sudoku, your mazes; intense and lonely as the rest of them live their vibrant wild lives, unimpressed by your passion for logical solutions.
But one day justice will be served. Somehow, miraculously, everybody in the world will find themselves trapped in a warehouse. The only exit will be blockaded by a complicated network of crates and revolving doors. And you, the one with the pudgy tum and the unflattering ball cap, you will be the only one with the skills to escape. The only one left alive. Who's laughing now, Pretty Girl? Who's laughing now?
Give yourself a pat on the back if you've already guessed that Puzzle Boy Flash is some kind of puzzle game, you genius you. It is indeed, of the block-pushing Sokoban variety. Your goal in each level is to get Puzzle Boy to the exit stairs, using only the [arrow keys] to direct him. Push blocks and rotate turnstiles by walking into them. Bridge gaps by plugging them with boxes. On some levels, Puzzle Boy will be accompanied by a little clone, and you can switch control between them by pressing [shift]. Restart a level with [space], and exit back to the menu screen with [esc].
30 levels await you, split into Easy, Medium, and Hard. That may not seem like many, but the level designs are intricate and fiendish. If you are the easily frustrated type, you may need some sort of calming agent, like a cup of Chamomile, or a purring cat. Or a punching bag. Whatever keeps you from destroying your monitor with a hammer.
Analysis: Puzzle Boy Flash is a remake of an obscure Gameboy game published in Japan in 1989 by Atlus, and re-released in the USA as Kwirk. Kwirk was the sort of tragic shades-wearing, in-your-face hyper-cool mascot that was all the rage in early 90s video games (today he would have a skateboard and tribal tattoos), but this remake features the original Puzzle Boy, a charismatic little yellow blob with only a sideways-turned hat to indicate his hipness.
The puzzles are some of the best I've seen. You can't just fiddle around, hoping to stumble upon the solution by chance. You'll need to be clever to finish even the very first level, and the Hard puzzles will test your very soul.
But programmer Blawars can't take credit for the design of the game, only for his/her good taste in choosing it to translate into Flash. Unfortunately, the interface is too faithful to its console roots. You must click the mouse once to get past the opening logo screen, but after that, it's keyboard control only. Clicking anywhere after that may actually mess up your game. It feels clunky using [space] to select levels, when clicking on them would do. It would be nice, in fact, to have a mouse control option for the puzzles themselves, since it's in a browser and all. This is a faithful remake, and nothing more.
On the other hand, Puzzle Boy is a gem that you probably haven't played in its original form, and the chunky pixel graphics are a nice dose of nostalgia. If your brain likes to be teased, tickled, maybe slapped around a little, give this one a try.