Puzzle Planet mildly challenging but far from complex

Spoiler alert! Puzzle Planet offers decent jigsaw puzzles with a hint of game play. You won’t find the five thousand piece leave-it-on-the-table for a month mammoth puzzles of the White Album cover that hard-core puzzlers love to ponder and obsess over. But for digital quickie puzzles to while away summer afternoons when you’ve been married too long, your schedules are too hectic and there are too damn many cats for a real quickie, these are good enough for four stars.

Carol and I were driving past the Glad Tidings Church on 2222 in Austin this morning and she noticed that their sign had been replaced with one for “GT Austin.” What a shame that a church that has been around as long as I can remember has been replaced by a sports car franchise with a slick blue logo.

Oh, wait.

This is one of those moments when I want to get a glimpse in the heads of the church’s board to see what they were thinking. It’s pretty much common knowledge that Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC so people would stop associating them with fried food—even though that’s exactly why people eat there. They may also have wanted to remove the association with Kentucky, and therefore the deep south and all those crackers. Besides, KFC is more hip and trendy than Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But “GT Austin?” That sounds like the board didn’t want people to associate the church with, well, “church.” It’s like they’re thinking, maybe if we change the name, people like Bill Maher will be fooled into visiting and then they’ll see the light and embrace J and their eternal salvation.

I know that churches in my day added guitars and music by Larry Norman (who few remember) and Amy Grant (who few can forget) to become more hip and appealing to hippie kids like me. But “GT Austin” seems just a step in the direction of too slick for their own good. Let’s face it, J was a full disclosure guy. He didn’t feel the need for a corporate brand. A brand like “J” with a logo (maybe a J cross).

Here are a couple of suggested corporate logos for the new brand “J.” The left logo takes a more contemporary rough cut approach, the right goes for the more traditional orthodox associations while expressing a stylish contemporary flair. People who have given up on the old Jesus will soon be embracing the new brand and be back on the road to heaven.

In fact, Glad Tidings is a pretty good name. Sure, nobody uses the word “tidings” any more. It sounds too much like tithing and that sounds like a God tax. God forbid Americans should pay taxes to the government or God. But there are still names they could have adopted in the spirit of full disclosure. How about “The Church of Wow”? Or “Church Lite?” (slogan: more faith, less guilt).

On the other hand GT Austin may ride well with younger crowds. It may express the notion of faith with its top down, the passengers in the fast lane to heaven with their hair blowing in the breeze.

Puzzle Planet is about as far from a slick corporate brand identity as an app can get, with a jigsaw earth and a cute purple aliens to herald the notion that players will find the app out of this world. Even though it’s game day Friday, and technically speaking, Puzzle Planet isn’t a game, I still thought I would squeeze it into the game box for the sake of convenient labeling.

Jigsaw with a few game features

Developer small planet did add some game features so players wouldn’t think they were stuck with an ordinary old jigsaw puzzle. As players successfully connect pieces, different game features “power up.” Some tiles burn, and the quicker you place them the more points they’re worth. Others attract missing pieces, allowing two or three connectable pieces to be added as a single chain. If you just want to solve puzzles you can, or you can add the game options to run up a score and collect game tokens.

Puzzle Planet offers players a variety of six-puzzle portfolios and more can be downloaded for a a dollar a set. New sets become available every month or so. Players can puzzle out cats, bridges, desserts, poisonous plants and even exotic foods.

Players can download additional puzzle portfolios for a dollar, and new sets become available every few weeks.

Players can assemble the puzzles in easy, medium and hard mode, with easy being really easy (think a handful of really big pieces). I didn’t find any of the puzzles challenging until the most difficult mode. The app places four puzzle pieces at random on the board and then reveals a eight more pieces at a time, only a few of which will mate with pieces already on the board.

Puzzle Planet places a few random pieces and reveals a handful more, making it a little more difficult to make a match.

The puzzles also rely on a variety of patterns, colors and gradients distributed in a way that presents several possibilities for each piece. Most of the puzzles will take a good half hour to hour in difficulty mode.

The one feature Puzzle Planet lacks is the ability for players to rotate game pieces to increase puzzle difficulty. I wouldn’t want this as standard, but the option would be nice.

I’m not a big puzzle fan, but Puzzle Planet has proved interesting enough for me to play through several of the puzzle sets. The themes are varied enough to make playing enjoyable even if some of the sets don’t appeal to my interest. Puzzle Planet is a great way to while away the hours when being a productive member of the workforce is the last thing on your mind.

The J logo is ready to start its corporate brand campaign. I know this has nothing to do with Puzzle Planet, but I am asking for a share of increased corporate revenues.

Jenny Manytoes rates Puzzle Planet

Jenny definitely purrs next to Puzzle Planet. She really likes the cats. She just wishes the cats were part of a real jigsaw puzzle so she could jump on the table and scatter the pieces.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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