Can you solve the mythical Tangram puzzle and transform all pieces into pure gold? Challenge your brain with 250 puzzle patterns for three different puzzle types. Or create and save your own puzzles in freestyle mode.
It seems as if all puzzle video games focus on forcing players to make and react to observations under duress -- Tetris gets progressively faster; Puyo Puyo has players contending with garbage puyos; Didgery operates under a timer; and so on. While its electronic forms sought to toss participants into a pressure cooker, the puzzle games of old are more relaxed; crossword puzzles, word searches, and other leisurely brain teasers which encouraged abstract thought and critical thinking without putting participants in a vice. Golden Tangram harks back to a seemingly bygone era when people turned to tangible, leisurely puzzles before the Tetris' electronic revolution.
A centuries old Chinese activity, Tangram asks players to reconfigure seven shapes into various forms, the measure of success simply being whether or not the player can figure out which arrangement is needed to form the given configuration. Initially set in the form of a square, the seven pieces consists of five triangles, one square, and one parallelogram. All pieces can be moved about and rotated with the left and right analog sticks, and the parallelogram can be flipped as it is the only shape which cannot assume all positions solely by spinning it around. Golden Tangram allows players to shift the board about somewhat to accommodate the varying sizes of the goal configurations, and the game will acknowledge when the arrangement is close to the solution. The player can hold down the B-button to make more precise movements and avoid having the Tangram pieces intersect with others, stopping them once they are adjacent to another piece. While the overall formation of the pieces may be ascertained, small nuisances in distance or positioning may at times make a seemingly complete solution not register in the game, requiring a bit of fudging around with the shapes to get the solution meter to fill completely. Once the meter is full, the puzzle is marked with a green check, and the player can move on to a new puzzle.
Just as in the original, non-electronic game, the satisfaction here comes from simply deriving the solution as there is no fanfare to congratulation the player beyond the check indicating that the pattern has been solved. The puzzles are great, mostly abstract shapes but some forming the likenesses of various animals and people. Although I suspect players familiar with the game may recognize many of these solutions, new players and puzzle fans will enjoy the kind of head scratching the game invites. These are brain teasers, pure and simple, and there's nothing here to force players to solve them within a set amount of moves or some arbitrary time limit. The frustration prevalent when stuck on a solution can kill the laid back styling at times, but the game never forces the player along, allowing people to pick and choose whichever puzzle they wish to solve with no restrictions attached. Golden Tangram offers 100 Tangram pattern to keep players busy along with two other modes of play: Pythagoras and Crossbreaker, each offering new shapes and 75 more configurations. The design change is welcomed, forcing players to think differently regarding the pieces and structure, and the game proves itself to be a bargain at 80 points with its 250 available patterns, which even if solved within a minute a piece (unlikely) would account for hours of fun.
One of the nice features of Golden Tangram is the ability to resume a puzzle should the player leave, though this only works if no other puzzle is attempted during the interim. This can be useful due to the level of finessing required at times to get the game to recognize the pattern. Golden Tangram's sole flaw which creeps up now and again is the rigid definition of what the game considers a solved pattern. I've had the "getting closer" meter rise and fill after I had put some space in between adjacent pieces even though none were shown on the solution silhouette. Oftentimes what's on screen looks correct and should be correct, but the game refuses to budge, demanding a more accurate representation even though its concept of accuracy is questionable at times. Tangrams such as Pattern 10, one which loosely resembles an American Indian with headdress standing in profile, proved to be a major pain to finish despite it having clearly defined pieces which should have made the solution a snap. Instead, the game kept insisting I was simply close to the solution, forcing me to spend a few minutes inching various shapes around until I finally got my green check mark. Nuisances such as these aren't completely prevalent but do pop up more often than I care, momentarily turning what should be a helpful indicator into the player's worst enemy.
Golden Tangram presents all of these shapes and patterns in an attractive finish. The game has a simple but professional sheen thanks to its user friendly menus, tutorial, and options. The game also offers a freestyle mode in which players can save their own patterns to challenge others locally. Golden Tangram isn't the kind of game which amasses a following, but those who give the game a shot will be pleasantly surprised by the depth and complexity this budget title brings.