The New Switcheroo
It may feel like someone's pulling the old switcheroo on you, but don't be fooled. It's Flash author Samgine rolling out The New Switcheroo, a puzzle game based on the Lights Out template, where the object is to turn all the bulbs in a formation to the same color. In classic Lights Out, whenever you click a bulb, it and all its neighbors switch states, from lit to unlit or vice versa. Over the course of 30 tricky and creative levels, The New Switcheroo adds a handful of twists, both figurative and literal, to that formula.
The first level will prime you for what's to come. A few of the bulbs display a plus mark, which means that clicking them will affect five bulbs in a cross configuration like you'd expect. The bulbs with a single dot affect only themselves when clicked. Later, you'll encounter bulbs that affect a diagonal line, or an X, or a diamond shape, or other permutations on that same idea.
The real confusion starts with the bulbs that have the power to move other bulbs, or even rotate them. That may not sound so bad, but wait till you try to wrap your poor brain around it in practice. Complicating matters is the fact that you never know which color you're going for, so it's easy to get lost trying to turn everything white, when the only solution is to turn everything gold. The difficulty curve is fair, but it takes a few giant steps to reach the mountainous heights of the hard levels. I swear the very last puzzle looks like Samgine just pulled out 60 random bulbs from a hat.
Analysis: Other than a brief tune when the game first loads, The New Switcheroo has no sound effects and minimal graphics. The only nod to presentation is a cute option to change the two main bulb colors in the game (This also serves to make the game more colorblind accessible). I miss having some basic audio/visual perks to go with my puzzle solving, but they're not really necessary. You've always got the option of shouting "PING" and making blinking gestures with your hands at the screen, whenever you beat a stage.
30 levels isn't very many, but you'll see a new idea on almost every one. There's enough variety to make each puzzle feel distinct, rather than just a larger, more complicated interpretation of the rules. There are still places this concept could go (gravity-changing bulbs? bulbs that burn out after a certain number of moves? long florescent bulbs?), but it's a solid beginning, more than enough to keep you pondering for an hour or two.