Stayed In Japan: Nintendo Puzzle Collection (ニンテンドーパズルコレクション)

Puzzle fiends, prepare to lose entire weeks of your life to swapping blocks, dropping pills, and cookies. #ProYoCo

Developer: Nintendo & Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Release date: February 7th, 2003

Nintendo Puzzle Collection features three classic Nintendo puzzle games packaged together for the GameCube: Dr. Mario, Yoshi’s Cookie and Panel De Pon (better known abroad as Tetris Attack or Puzzle League). This collection was released exclusively in Japan so there will be a slight language barrier to overcome, but thankfully navigating menus in Japanese is relatively easy and language skills are not required at all to play the games themselves.

The three games all follow a classic puzzle game structure of matching similarly colored blocks, but each game puts its own spin on these mechanics, lending the collection some cohesion while keeping each game unique. Dr. Mario is all about dropping pills down on viruses from up above, Yoshi’s Cookie is about sliding cookies into matching rows, and Panel De Pon is all about swapping blocks along a constantly rising wall without reaching the top of the screen. Each game is easy to grasp, but can still keep you hooked for hours like any good puzzle game should: Panel De Pon in particular has an enormous amount of strategy for those who want to seek it, and its multiplayer offerings made it my favorite of the three games by far.

Aesthetically, the collection gets the job done. Each game’s graphics have been lovingly redrawn, and Yoshi’s Cookie delivers with a look and feel borrowed straight from Yoshi’s Island. Panel De Pon is also delightfully cute, but it might cause a diabetic shock for those not accustomed to the excessively cutesy anime stylings. Unfortunately the audio isn’t quite up to snuff, with weak reworkings of classic tunes from each game: Dr. Mario‘s Chill was the only one that elicited any reaction from me at all.

Individually any of these games can make hours of your life breeze by, but packaged together and combined with robust single- and multiplayer options, they can make you lose entire days of your life at a time. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, hop on to eBay and find yourself a copy.

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