Review: Arctic Adventures: Polar’s Puzzles
I know this review is about a year late, but in that time Arctic Adventures and I have gone through quite a bit. Sometime last year, I was over a friend’s house for a going away party. I brought my PSP 1000 loaded up with Arctic Adventures. “I’ve got to review this minis game,” I told my friends. “It’s actually pretty good.” Soon enough, I was drunkenly trying to complete some puzzles while simultaneously showing off the game to people who couldn’t care less about PSPs, minis, or Polar Bears. To make a long story short, I woke up the next day without the PSP. I wanted to have it in Seattle for PAX Prime 2010, but I couldn’t find it. A few months later I bought a PSPgo and have since been back on my minis grind. It wasn’t until Chris compiled a list of our (at that time) massive backlog of games that I realized I had forgotten all about Polar and his mind-numbing puzzles. I transferred the game onto my PSP and went at it again. It’s still a very good puzzle game.
Polar Panic came out on the PSN a while back, and I tried the demo during a winter promotion. It’s not half bad, but as a full PSN title the game looked a bit lacking. Arctic Adventures takes some puzzles from the Polar Panic’s Puzzle Mode, adds new ones, and wraps it all into a neat little minis package. It looks good on a PSP and plays just fine. There are 50 puzzles to get through, each of which has three stars to unlock. You get one star for completing the puzzle, one for completing it under a certain amount of time, and one for completing it by making the least amount of moves possible. Instead of unlocking one puzzle at a time like in Polar Panic, you unlock whole groups of puzzles. This is nice because the difficulty of the puzzles ramps up significantly. If you’re stuck on the first puzzle of the next group, you can skip it and still gain enough stars to unlock more puzzle groups. Earning stars becomes quite addictive, and I spent a lot of time retrying puzzles to speedrun through them or consolidate my moves.
All of the puzzles are based on block movement/destruction. Snow blocks are stationary and have to be destroyed by pressing X next to them. Ice blocks slide until they hit a wall and can be destroyed by pushing them against said wall. Dynamite blocks explode on impact if they’re slid across a map, but stay stable if they’re moved one space at a time. In addition to the different block types, there are gaps of water to be crossed, floor switches, and other elements that add to the puzzling. The point that I became impressed with the game is when I played on a boat that was rocking back and forth. Oil drums slide left and right according to how the boat is rocking, and it’s up to you to trap them onto floor switches by pushing blocks behind them.
The variety of puzzles found within Arctic Adventures makes it a fun puzzle game for the minis platform. Graphically, the game looks a lot better on a PSP than it does on a PS3. The music tracks are the same as Polar Panic’s, which is to say they’re good. The three star scoring method kept me interested for a long while, and the game gets surprisingly difficult after the first five puzzles. It’s definitely worth the low price of $2 to have this on your PSP for some puzzling on the run.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
What I Like:
- Different types of puzzles
- Ratings for each level
- Lots of levels
What I Dislike:
- Gets difficult quickly