Casual games are often derided as simplistic... but that complaint assumes that complexity is a good thing in and of itself. Certainly I've seen my fair share of bloated major releases that bring my CPU to a crawl seemingly just for the the heck of it. Reducing puzzles to their most fundamental features, without sacrificing an iota of challenge, can make for some very satisfying games. Today in the JiG Vault we have three minimalist masterpieces from our archives that show just how great it can be when developers Keep It Simple, Stupid.
- Gridlock - Gridlock, by Corwin Derkatch, is a cool mix of Rush Hour and a Piet Mondrian painting. Its pastel quadrilaterals make for a sliding work of art, and the game's 40 levels will push your spatial logic skills to the breaking point. Certainly I always felt accomplished when I made it to the exit, but oh how I cursed those gray rectangles for refusing to get out of my way. Check out the rotating Expert mode, too! You know... if you don't mind going mad with frustration.
- Ununicum - I may not know how to pronounce it, but I know a great game when I see it. A high point of Tonypa's impressive collection of games, Ununicum takes the familiar world of match-3 and remixes it into something fresh and new. Immediately understandable, colorfully attractive to the eye, and addictive enough to keep you playing for hours, Ununicum is the perfect game to waste time on, whether it's five minutes or an entire afternoon. Throw in a dreamy soundtrack and a competitive high score table, and you've got a true classic. Now excuse me... For some reason this game makes me want to sew a quilt
- Planarity -You know the frustration you get when you're untying an extremely complicated knot? And how great it feels once you've gotten everything untangled? Planarity, by John Tantalo, starts like that. And then it gets insane. A perfect example of how simple ideas can inspire the hardest of puzzles, Planarity is a game of geometric brilliance and mathematical elegance. Nerd Joke: Even István Fáry would agree that manual planarity testing has never been so enjoyable. I think you'll agree too.
While we welcome any comments about this weekly feature here, we do ask that if you need any help with the individual games, please post your questions on that game's review page. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and rediscover some awesome!