The Enlightened One says, “If you meet the puzzle on the road, solve it!” Zentomino is a basic puzzle game that channels Eastern mysticism by combining pentominoes with tangrams, resulting in an app that feels like a series of Tetris jigsaw puzzles.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of puzzle games, and with the recent launch of Apple’s Game Center, you can be sure I was all over the puzzle offerings like maple syrup on a stack of flapjacks. Zentomino has been out for awhile now, but I wanted to see how the addition of an online social element would affect this otherwise very simple game.
The game itself is easy enough to learn, but very challenging to master. You have a set of 12 different pentominoes (shapes made up of 5 squares) and another larger shape that can be made from the pentominoes. By dragging the pentominoes into the center, you can rotate or flip them around to eventually fit them into place to create the shape. Not all the pentominoes must be used, but the pieces should interlock and not overlap each other or sit outside of the shape’s outline. It’s a bit like trying to solve a blank jigsaw puzzle together, and it becomes a serious mental challenge after awhile.
The overall design is clean and colorful, and the touch interface is responsive and easy to use. And the laidback style makes this an ideal game for relaxing with while also stimulating your brain, like sudoku or crosswords. I wasn’t wild about the generically soothing soundtrack, but based on a comment left by the developer in the App Store, it does look like it’s possible to play your own music as well.
But, of course, the big question is “How is it with Game Center?” And the answer is “nothing special”. It has a few achievements to earn, but beyond that, integration with Game Center is still fairly minimal. It still feels very much like a work in progress, and I imagine that over time, more and more achievements will become available and make it more of a draw for the achievement earning types out there.
Until then, Zentomino is a deeply challenging puzzle experience, but still relaxing and low key. It’s not an especially new or original game, but it’s very nicely implemented and with hundreds of levels to gradually work through, it’s definitely worth the $0.99 price tag.
Here is a video demo of the Zentomino app on the iPhone
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