I am not a patient person. Usually when people suggest I take a break from the games with the explosions, bright colours, and bombastic music my response is a respectable pthhhbtbtbt. I don't want to sit around, methodically plotting out my every move, deciphering mazes and puzzles. At least, I didn't until I met Zigmond III, the latest game from Microsheep.
Zigmond III is actually the name of the hero, a roly-poly little detective hot on the trail of the intimidating Mr Evil (yes, really) who has stolen some of the greatest masterpieces of the art world. It's just like James Bond, really, only instead of getting strapped to an easily escapable table with a laser slowly inching towards your bits, you're pushing blocks and mirrors around cramped mazes, Sokoban-style.
Each level has only one goal; to reach the staircase to the next. It sounds simple, but Mr. Evil is true to his name and has set up an array of lasers blocking them all, and you'll have to figure out a way past if you want to save the day. Click on an area to have Zigmond patter over to it. Click on mirrors, crates, and barrels to have him push it in the direction he's facing, providing nothing is blocking the way. While crates and barrels will block the beam completely, mirrors will also reflect it, so make sure you're not standing in the wrong place when you move one in front of a laser. You can click the Undo button on the side of the screen indefinitely to go back a move, but be careful. Get zapped by a laser, and you'll have to start all over again.
Analysis: Don't let Zigmond's body-by-Pillsbury physique and the game's cuddly appearance fool you. Some of these puzzles can be hair-pullingly difficult if Sokoban-style gameplay isn't your thing. After all, not everybody is looking for the sort of joy one can only get while nudging tiny barrels around the screen and accidentally frying yourself with a laser redirected by a mirror you were moving. It's slow, thoughtful gameplay, and you either like it or you don't.
The being said, if you do enjoy this sort of thing, rejoice! Zigmond III is as pure a puzzle experience as you can get. For the most part, you can ignore the timer on the side of the screen, since its really only there to make you feel bad about yourself. Ditto the step counter. The game wastes no time amping up the difficulty, so completing each stage really feels like an accomplishment. The puzzles are some of the most well designed I've seen in a casual game, so go ahead and give yourself that pat on the back you want to every time you complete a level.
In fact, if you were to ignore the puzzles completely, Zigmond III is actually very easy. There's no penalty for how long you take to solve a puzzle, or how many steps you take. No matter how many times you fry yourself with a mirror, you can always just start the level over again. There's no penalty other than the sting of your own ego for your failure.
Despite a rather high level of difficulty for the uninitiated, Zigmond III is a highly enjoyable puzzle adventure that plays as simply and as well as it looks. If you enjoy mazes, or don't but feel as though you should be punishing yourself for something, Zigmond will offer up a nice chunk of gameplay for all ages.
Thanks for sending this one in, Ez and Yoav. Cheers!