Cheap puzzle games are plentiful in the App Store, so a collection of 20 games for $5.99 seems like a great idea. PuzzleManiak is a big compilation of puzzles ranging from Sudoku to Minesweeper to lots of home-grown originals, all packed into a compact little App. Some of these games are good, but we found that the deal isn’t quite as stellar as it looks, mostly due to quality issues.
PuzzleManiak does a lot of things right. You can choose multiple difficulty levels and configurations for each of the 20 minigames, and the game autogenerates new puzzles on demand. It’ll also solve any puzzle with the touch of a button. Further, you can download online challenges from other players, the controls are simple, and the menus are easy to navigate.
However, all is not as excellent as it seems. The quality of the games varies widely. There are about five or six good ones, like Sudoku, another five mediocre ones, and the rest are either junk or too similar to the others. For instance, “Pattern” and “SameGame” feel almost like clones of each other, and a lot of the number games are so similar that it’s hard to tell them apart.
In addition, PuzzleManiak has some usability and quality issues that degrade the experience. It’s full of annoying prompts checking if you’re sure you want to leave, such as when you quit a game and return to the menu. There’s also quite a few bugs which forced us to restart our iDevice, such as when the game was unable to connect to the Internet. The graphics in some of the games are very retro, with very few colors and simple lines, while other games have rather simple cartoonish graphics. The sound is non-existent, but thankfully you are able to play your own music.
PuzzleManiak isn’t a terrible buy for real puzzle fans, but it’s important to note that many of the minigames are available for purchase individually at 99 cents or free. Those who aren’t interested in buying in volume might want to look for a simpler, cheaper, more polished experience.