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Lumines is a simple, Tetris-inspired game that is a snap to pick up and play. Flashy backgrounds and groovy music get flashier and groovier the better you play, and higher scores unlock new images and new songs. Lumines II adds a few features for an even better game. Either of the two would be a good choice, or you can start with the first and then move on to the second.
If you’ve played your fair share of puzzle games, you’ve probably played the classic Bejeweled, where you have a screen full of icons and need to swap the places of them in order to create groups of three or more. Well, that’s exactly what Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords offers, but then adds in an RPG spin.
On top of the gem-swapping gameplay, you’re playing a full RPG with a story, a game world, and battles. So, when you play the puzzles, you’re not just trying to make random groups but rather make specific groups that your characters then use to power their skills in combat.
So, whether you’re a fan of fantasy RPGs or puzzle games, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords has something to offer. With 150 different quests, custom heroes, and even multiplayer, there’s plenty for players to enjoy. If you want to play on a bigger screen, the game also released on PC, PS2, PS3, and PS4.
Crush is a clever puzzle platformer with a twist: It’s not entirely played in 3D and it’s not entirely played in 2D. Instead, the puzzles consist of switching between the two. Your character stomps his feet, and the game world suddenly switches between 2D and 3D, letting you reach places you wouldn’t have been able to before.
In Crush, you play as Dan, a man struggling with life and insomnia. But all of that story takes second fiddle to the clever puzzles created using the perspective-shifting dynamic. You’ll switch between dimensions to push objects, collect orbs, avoid threats, and reach the finish of each level.
If you haven’t played Crush before, it’s a must-play for the PSP. The clever perspective shifting can be found in many later games as well. A similar effect was used in the fantastic puzzle game Fez, which is available on newer consoles if you can’t track down a copy of Crush.
The LEGO video games often make for some of the most fun adaptation of film franchises into video games. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is no exception to this, and offers a fun game for Lego fans, Star Wars fans, and just gamers in general.
On top of letting you play through scenes from the original Star Wars Trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) using a wide variety of the characters from the movies, you’ll be solving puzzles along the way. Often the puzzles involve hunting down Lego pieces that get built into a tool you’ll use to progress further in each level. Sometimes you’ll need the abilities of a specific character.
If you enjoy this game, there are also plenty of other Lego games that have come out on the PSP. They include popular franchises like Harry Potter, Batman, Indiana Jones, and more. To play on a bigger screen, you can also find Lego games with modern graphics and more great puzzles available on current consoles.
Echochrome is what it would be like to take an M.C. Escher painting and turn it into a video game level. The artwork is simple, with little in the way of color, and mostly just plain lines everywhere, but the way the lines can connect into mind-bending levels makes for a pleasing design.
In Echochrome, a wireframe character will walk back and forth through the levels, and you’re tasked with changing the camera angle so that what once might have been a dead end instead leads to another part of the level. The game indicates various points that the character must reach in order to complete the level.
There are bounce pads, pitfalls, and plenty of clever levels that will force you to think hard about how you can see things from a different perspective. If you enjoy the gameplay of Echochrome, a follow-up game called Echoshift also launched on PSP, changing the type of puzzles to focus on planning with your actions in each playthrough affecting your subsequent playthroughs.
When you think of a puzzle game, N+ might not be what you’d think of. But, for all of its fast-paced, gold-collecting, rocket-dodging action, there’s a very clear puzzle element to it, especially as you get into later levels.
In N+, you have to navigate varying maps using your speed, quick reflexes, and the wall-jump ability to collect coins, open doors, and escape without being harmed. But doing that means avoiding robots that are out to get you, dodging mines, and not hitting the ground too hard. This all combines to make the puzzle actually all about how you move through the level, especially as you get a higher score for collecting more gold and going faster.
If you’re not careful, you can find your momentum carrying you into a mine or a robot might spot you and shoot you out of the sky. A level editor will also let you and your friends build puzzling levels for one another. Just know, this isn’t a slow-paced puzzler — it will be hard to remain calm while playing later levels. N+ is also available on a number of other platforms if you prefer to play with a larger controller and bigger screen.
Mercury Meltdown is a fun little color- and physics-based puzzle game, where you have to guide around a liquid blob of mercury, ultimately helping it reach the endpoint of each level. This game is a follow up to Archer Maclean’s Mercury, which features similar mercury blob-centered puzzles.
In the game, you tilt the level, and the mercury blob slides along. But, there are obstacles that can split your blob into multiple pieces, bits of it can fall off the levels, and obstacles stand in your way. The puzzles also involve changing the color of your blob so that it can interact with different color-coded switches in the level, including color-coded finish points.
Sometimes, you have to get extra creative to solve puzzles, splitting a blob into multiple pieces, getting each to be a different color, and then recombining them to form a new color you couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Mercury Meltdown is a fun little puzzler suitable for even young gamers. And, it even supports wireless multiplayer or the option to challenge a computer opponent.
Lemmings is a classic puzzle game that seems to rear its head every now and then, and it just happened to get a release on the PSP. The premise of Lemmings is simple: A small pack of lemmings is trying to get from one end of the level to the other, and they have no hope of getting there without your intervention.
To help the lemmings reach the end of the level, you’ll have to give different lemmings special instructions. Some might have to dig through walls. Others may need to start building a bridge. Some may even have to explode to create a path for their fellow lemmings. Generally, not all the lemmings will survive, but if you don’t help, they’re likely to just walk right off a cliff.
The PSP version of Lemmings features over 100 levels and five different themed backdrops to keep things fresh. And, the level editor will let you make your own challenges. Whether you want to play for a long stretch or just get a few minutes of puzzling in now and then, Lemmings is a great pick.