'Zaku' is one of those home-brew releases that, had it been released in the Lynx's hey-day, it could have been a game changer. There are several home-brew titles in that category ('Cybervirus' for one) and 'Zaku' as a shooter game was widely lauded on release. However, few gamers would realize that there was a little surprise put out there in the Lynx world, and that was the ROM-only release of a mini puzzle game, 'Zaku Puzzle'.
'Zaku Puzzle' puts the player in the place of having to solve a sliding jigsaw puzzle, which features several of the principal game's villains. Penguins! This vibrant little game board is divided up into several key parts, and… you know the drill… you gotta put 'em back into one cohesive portrait. Easy? It is not. Fun? Of course. But you certainly need patience in this mini game!
The visuals are pretty simple and straightforward in 'Zaku Puzzle', but they allow the impressive cartooning skills of Penguinet to be on full display. The characterization of these birds is hilarious, really. They may be villainous, but boy do they look adorable; that must be their deceptive strategy! The big penguin with the red beret is a standout feature in the puzzle; if you've played 'Zaku' on the Lynx, you'll know all about this guy!
Music-wise, there's only one little theme that's included. It is a simple, relaxing little ditty that actually slowly fades out as you start puzzling and moving shapes. That's actually a good thing, because you'll need your wits about you and all your concentration skills to get this penguin portrait complete. There are no sounds, which is something that would have been nice (just a simple smooth sound of each tile sliding across would have been sufficient).
Controls, naturally, only need to be simple and functional in a game like this, and that is certainly the case with 'Zaku Puzzle'. The key thing to remember is that you can only move one puzzle square at a time, and this tile must have a space vacant next to it. Even if you see what you think is the true full picture, you can't complete it unless you pursue this "square by square" process. It's just like slide puzzles in real life; no shortcuts here!
This is a game that is so simple, but could actually take a long time to complete. There is only one portrait to complete (a pity) but there is absolutely no guidance as to what the portrait actually looks like put together. I Googled it, I couldn't find it; maybe you will have better success that me! In any case, even if you know what the final portrait looks like, actually getting all the pieces in place will be a challenge. I still haven't finished this game, and I'm trying! That's actually a good thing for longevity; it can feel frustrating moving only one square at a time, but that's how these puzzles work, folks!
Overall, as a mini-game and a major little freebie, I find a lot to like about 'Zaku Puzzle'. Simple? Yes. Colourful? Yep. Long lasting? Well, it's still sitting there unfinished for me! I reckon puzzle fans especially will appreciate this game, and truthfully, there aren't many sliding puzzle games out there for the Lynx. Once you finish it, you just might find yourself going back at some point to see if you can beat it again. And it just might be the thing to get another person interested in 'Zaku'. That, in my view, can only be a good thing.Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions