In the Korean mobile games market, the obsessive button mashing and nonstop leveling-up make even the toughest Western-style games seem like tic-tac-toe.
Disney Puzzle Family is an iPhone update of one of Com2Us’s biggest Korean titles, Puzzle Family, but not even Disney’s magical branding efforts can soften the amount of effort required to unlock the game’s full range of content. Disney Puzzle Family is all about forcing you to constantly replay a few basic minigames, which makes it hard to recommend to any but the most dedicated action-puzzle fanatics.
When you wish upon a star…
In this iPhone version, your puzzle-loving family has grown to 10 members from the original five, and each has his own minigame. These range from the laughably simple “1, 2, 3, Baby,” where you just count in order by tapping cards, to the perplexing “Seven, Sis.” This is a math/rhythm mash-up where you have to answer simple addition and subtraction problems, timing your answer to the beat of an equation popping onto the screen.
You choose three minigames to activate when you first start playing, and the rest have to be slowly unlocked by spending stars. Stars are the main currency of Disney Puzzle Family–they’re used to unlock new games, buy Disney-themed items, and play a harder version of each game.
Since unlocking each new game costs 800 stars–and you’ll earn only a few dozen stars each time you play (depending on your skill)–it can take a very long time to earn enough stars to unlock all 10 minigames. It’s also frustrating to waste those 800 stars unlocking a minigame you don’t like.
Disney Puzzle Family’s biggest flaw is that its original games are not fun, and its fun games are not original. The best minigames are variations on old standards like Bejeweled and SameGame. While a ticking timer has been added to make each minigame more challenging, they’re still just slightly inferior versions of familiar games.
The star-collecting metagame does add long-term value to this title, but it might alienate casual gamers who would otherwise enjoy Disney Puzzle Family’s unique style. Disney fans probably won’t be too impressed by the collection of themed items that you can unlock using stars, either. Aladdin’s lamp or Pinocchio’s hat don’t grant interesting magical effects to your family members–they just have minor effects on the minigames themselves, like slowing down the timers.
Disney Puzzle Family demands a lot of effort from players, and offers only slight reward. If you have the patience to constantly grind for stars, a few of the minigames might hold your interest long enough to make Disney Puzzle Family a worthwhile purchase. Everyone else should probably save their $4.99.