Hatsune Miku Puzzle Review
On these shores, vocaloid Hatsune Miku is perhaps best known for her rhythm-action games, which makes it all the more odd that Xbox is still waiting for her first. Instead, we had side gigs, with Miku appearing in Hatsune Miku Logic Painting S and now this, Hatsune Miku jigsaw puzzle, a fairly simple puzzle game. This may be testing the waters.
As for Logic Paint S, we weren’t bothered by not getting a main entry. It was a collection of picross or nonogram, and somehow managed to be one of the best examples we’ve played on any system. He opted for a massive volume of puzzles, and faced with a fork in the road, one path leading to difficulty and knots, the other leading to the smoothest and easiest Picross experience, he chose this last. It offered every possible tool or aid to the player, and ended up giving them a much better experience. We gave him a ⅘ in review and passed him 100% – a sure sign he was onto something.
Now, Crypton Future Media has turned its attention to the humble puzzle. Until now, we were of the opinion that a puzzle is an impossible task for a video game. All the interactions we take for granted when making a real jigsaw – sorting by colors, putting all the side pieces on the board first and gently wiggling two joined pieces to make sure that, yes, they were meant to be next to each other other – are so much more delicate and unpleasant when you have a tampon in your hands. And it’s not like puzzles are hard to put together in your living room.
So, it’s fair to say that while we had faith in Crypton Future Media, after nailing Picross with a gamepad in their hands – a no-nonsense feat – we were less sure they were able to do the same with puzzles.
At least if Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle were to fail, it would look good doing it. As you’d expect from a Hatsune Miku game, the soundtrack is a screaming masterpiece of J-pop. It veers off to incorporate house and techno, but overall it’s sweet and a delight to listen to throughout. If you like to hop on some Wagner while you do a puzzle at home, that might be a little too much, but it makes everything it touches here better.
The same goes for the presentation, which is as chibi and in your face as it is with Logic Paint S. It’s all fun to interact with, resulting in booming sound effects every time you select something. It’s everything we expect from a Japanese arcade.
There are thirty-nine puzzles here, which turn out to be both enough and too little. We say too little because there’s a voice in the back of our heads complaining that the puzzles are just wallpapers that Crypton had sat in their hard drives, and for £9.99 they should be able to create a little more than that. We say “enough” because in reality, we were well done, long before we reached the end of these thirty-nine. Maybe that was enough after all.
Each puzzle has an Easy (63 pieces), Normal (130 pieces) and Hard (300 pieces) version, so let’s be charitable and say there are 117 puzzles here rather than thirty-nine. Achievements certainly want you to do each of them. Surprisingly, there are no modes beyond simple puzzle solving. We’re racking our brains to think what those alternate modes could have been, but it’s surprising how vanilla Hatsune Miki Jigsaw Puzzle is. There’s a co-op mode, if you like battling for coins on a single screen, but otherwise it’s hardly surprising.
And then it’s in the puzzles themselves, and “we told you so” rings in our ears. When interacting with up to 300 pieces across a wide range of screen sizes, a puzzle ported to a video game was always going to be a challenge. How do you find the part you want? How do you satisfactorily clip it to another? How do you emulate the fantastic sound of rustling puzzle pieces?
Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle can’t find the answers. He tries, and there are some welcome concessions. For example, each piece is laid out neatly on the left side of the screen, and they are all facing the right way. There’s an argument that this makes things too easy for a seasoned puzzler, but you’ll be thankful for it in the end.
Speedhump #1 is that there are a surprising number of interactions when doing a puzzle. Pick up; drop; sort in piles; clip in place; put back in the box. You don’t realize it until you play. Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle tries to solve this problem by mapping a lot of buttons to the controller and changing what they do depending on the context. So LB and RB will skip to the next puzzle piece when you’re in the puzzle itself, but when you’re in the box menu, it will skip to the next “page” of pieces.
It would work fine if the two “modes” were separate, but they often overlap. We would like to look at the next batch of pieces while working on the puzzle itself, but accidentally swap the piece we were holding. It’s just as easy to drop a coin when you meant to put it back in the box. We were constantly tripping over ourselves and swearing, and the controller started to feel like a hindrance to the search rather than a help.
He also scores own goals, which leads us to speedhump #2. The images themselves might have made for great backgrounds, but many of them – especially the opening ten – turn horrible puzzles around. There’s a massive amount of open, empty space where desktop icons would go on a desktop wallpaper, but it’s a one-color wash that makes building it out of jigsaw pieces a nightmare. This is no more true than in Hard mode, where 300 pieces, all identical, and without the tactility of picking them up to check their connection, it becomes an absolute chore. There is a simple art to choosing images for puzzles, and Crypton Future Media keeps getting it wrong.
Swallow your pride, though, and play Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle on Easy and there’s fun to be had here. Even the worst images are filed down and you almost get some kind of flow. It’s still impossible to sort pieces satisfactorily, stack and rummage through pieces of the same color, but the ease of the puzzle makes it a bit questionable. It’s not exactly difficult, but you can still reach the meditative state that many puzzlers aim for, where you lose yourself in the flow and let your brain out of your ears.
Enough is a good question. Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle can handle smaller puzzles, where the inherent awkwardness of playing with pieces using a controller is minimized. But if you’re more ambitious and want to play with just over sixty-three pieces – and we suspect most puzzle enthusiasts will want at least that – then this is tripping. The pictures don’t match the format, the controls are clunky, and it lacks the joy of pieces fitting together. Save yourself the stress of the Hatsune Miku puzzle and head to your local charity shop for a Ravensburger.
You can buy the Hatsune Miku puzzle on the Xbox Store
On these shores, vocaloid Hatsune Miku is perhaps best known for her rhythm-action games, which makes it all the more odd that Xbox is still waiting for her first. Instead, we had side gigs, with Miku appearing in Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S and now Hatsune Miku Jigsaw Puzzle, a fairly straightforward puzzle game. This may be testing the waters. As for Logic Paint S, we weren’t bothered by not getting a main entry. It was a picross or nonogram collection, and somehow managed to be one of the best examples that…
Hatsune Miku Puzzle Review
Hatsune Miku Puzzle Review
- On smaller sized puzzles you can get a flow
- Fantastic soundtrack as always
- Impeccable presentation
- Only thirty-nine puzzles to solve
- Delicate and versatile controls
- Larger puzzles are real tests of patience
- Many thanks for the free copy of the game, go to – Bought by TXH
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
- Reviewed version – Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date – June 24, 2022
- Introductory price from – £9.99