I'm not sure why developer Wellgames chose the tagline "Puzzle pattern pandemonium!", or why they shoehorned that ridiculous "Z!" into the title. This is perhaps the least Xtreme, least pandemonium-laden game I've ever seen. In fact, if you're playing it without a mug of cocoa and an oversized sweater, you're doing it wrong. For Patchworkz! is—in the popular new trend of taking an incredibly boring activity and making a fun video game from it—a game about quilting.
Each level presents you with an incomplete quilt, essentially a jig-saw puzzle with sections missing. A selection of patches sits at the bottom of the screen, and you finish the puzzle merely by dragging them one by one into the correct positions. However, the rules are the opposite of those for a regular jig-saw. Patches come in a wide variety of different shapes, and a piece will never match its neighbor in color or pattern. Therefore you must intuit, from the patchwork already in place, what the overall design of the puzzle is and how the new pieces must fit into it.
The faster you complete a quilt, the higher your score. The level numbers stretch on for quite a while, so Patchworkz! keeps track of your progress between sessions. I've had some trouble with the game forgetting my profile, though, so be warned that can happen, and always keep your hot cocoa close at hand.
Analysis: The gameplay is addictive, and the presentation is top-notch. Wellgames has included a near-endless variety of designs and patterns, and if the graphics aren't exactly soft and quilt-like, they are at least crisp and attractive. The cheery dink dink dink of correctly placed patches is sonic comfort food, like a bottomless bag of jelly beans.
But Patchworkz! is intriguing mostly because it taps into a totally different set of skills (or "skillz", as the quilterz say these dayz) than just about any other game. Often a quilt will be so fractured that you must fill in the gaps using only your sense of color and balance. I find that remarkable. When is the last time a video game tested you on your talent for visual composition?
Note to my aunt in Reno: I am kidding about quilting being boring. Please keep sending me cozy comforters.