Perfect Balance 3: Last Trials
It seems like only yesterday I was praising physics puzzle phenom Ttursas for being sensitive to those of us who are, shall we say, less than steady on our feet. (In fact, it was last Wednesday.) Well, now we see things as they really are! Perfect Balance 3: Last Trials is here to test and challenge your steady stacking abilities. Well, we'll show them, won't we?! We will balance all these things! We will balance them so hard.
As with other titles in the Perfect Balance series, your goal is to place all the shapes you have on the playing field so that none of them fall off. Click on a shape at the top of the screen, use the [A] and [D] buttons to rotate it, then click again anywhere below the line to place it. Upon balancing all your shapes like the zen master (or mistress!) we know you to be, the game will present you with a row of gems; you can go on to the next level, or you can try and balance some or all of these gems on your field as well, attaining bonuses and ULTIMATE BALANCE if your stack-fu is strong enough.
Of course, it's not all cheery circles and shining triangles; as you progress, you'll encounter obstacles you'll have to work around like bombs, and even blocks that move in certain directions when you place them, or weigh more than others. The faster you stack, the bigger your score for completing the level, but Perfect Balance is (and always has been) one of those games where you'll get the best results if you move slowly and think things through. And you'll need to, since unlike Perfect Balance 2, you cannot skip levels.
Analysis: If you're like me, you've probably been in this situation at least once. You know the one; you see someone struggling with a seemingly simple task, and you nudge them aside with a condescending pat on the back to "show them how to do it" and fifteen minutes later you're still fuming over it. That's Perfect Balance in a nutshell; simple in theory, and absolutely devious in execution. With it's clean design and relaxing ommm-inducing ambient soundtrack, you'd never suspect it could be so tricky. Of course, you'll never be quite sure if the game is really that hard or if you're just missing the more obvious solution. There were levels I wasted far too much time on trying to jerry-rig elaborate balance mechanisms before I realised there was a much simpler answer staring me in the face. (Which is, admittedly, the story of my life.)
The balance itself can be rather forgiving, with shapes that you would expect to roll all over the place settling relatively quickly in a precarious spot. The most infuriating aspect will probably wind up being the arrow blocks. The arrow blocks. Flying... taunting! In a way, all these different elements, and the arrows in particular, are what really makes the game feel more like a proper puzzle; you're forced to think and plan rather than just slapping everything down wherever you please and hoping to get lucky.
Perfect Balance 3: Last Trials is at least honest in its name; the difficulty level here might be frustrating to newcomers just looking for a simple, easy-breezy physics puzzle to while away the time. In that sense, it might have been nice to see the ability to skip levels back, even if it was still limited; most people generally have some sort of frustration threshold that directly relates to how many times they are willing to try something before they give up on it for good. Still, if you have the patience and a keen eye for shapes, this may be the tricky puzzle you've been waiting for to dig right in and really get your hands dirty. It's proof positive that even the simplest of concepts can prove a challenge if you package it smartly enough.