Our collective gut says that we'll be talking a lot about Colaboratory's Puzzlejuice [$.99] in 2012. That's big praise considering it's January and all, but it has that indescribable feel of a remarkable game. To its credit, it does a great job convincing you that it is, in fact, this good; it has an unparalleled swagger, presence, and charisma that crops up in almost every aspect of the title, including the UI and tutorials. It knows it's hot.

We're not sure if it knows how crazy it is, though. Puzzlejuice deftly pairs the block matching of a Tetris to a free-form spelling mechanic like the one used in last year's stand-out, SpellTower [$1.99]. Basically, you create lines by rotating blocks of varying shapes and smashing them together at the bottom of the screen. Once you make a solid line, the matched blocks magically transform into letters that you then have to spell words with.

When you spell a word, the blocks disappear and allow for more matching action. This is especially vital since blocks are constantly tumbling from the top of the screen Tetris-style and threatening to end your session if they breach the top of the level. The push and pull of the action is beyond frantic, as you'll need to keep your eye on everything at once. Puzzlejuice also tosses in challenges, like, say, "spell a five-letter word," to the mix, which pushes your dexterity and mental fortitude to its limits.

There's a lot of smaller mechanical treats within in the package, too: it has power-ups like bombs and total game freezes; it has color-specific hooks in the blocks that allow you to pop matching colors before side-to-side lines are formed; and it has two kinds of "core" scoring modes, one in which asks you to spell at least five-letter words for the maximum amount of block clearing.

Puzzlejuice keeps you on your heels and fighting against a whirlwind of blocks, colors, letters, and challenges. The franticness of the play is a nice change of general genre pacing, which is a big reason why we're so behind the game. It's also a looker, too. Check it out:

If you hate word games with a capital H, we can't imagine that this will be an exception to your overall distaste. If you do enjoy these kinds of titles, Puzzlejuice is probably something you should check out. We'll be giving this the official go for review shortly, but obviously our impression so far is, er... pretty good.

UPDATE: Puzzlejuice is now $.99.

  • http://twitter.com/aeiowu Greg Wohlwend

    Hey Brad, thanks so much for the post :) We also have a much more exciting trailer if you want to post that as well: http://vimeo.com/35236358

  • Anonymous

    In the spirit of disclosure, I am friends with the developer, but hadn't played the game until release last night. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I am a fan of SpellTower (playing it after it was recommended on TA's "best of the year" list) and PuzzleJuice is plays very similar. What it exceeds at is personality. It feels like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery and plays like... the crazy love child of SpellTower and Tetris. It is amazingly frantic... but never so hard that you don't feel like you have a fighting chance. The controls take a little getting use to (sometimes the "draw a line" to make words is a little fiddley) but the power-ups are a great addition and the reward system is fun and plentiful, in my first play session, I almost topped 1 million points. It's fun and frantic and a game you should check out!

  • http://twitter.com/rocketcatgames Rocketcat Games

    Is it just me or is everyone referring to SpellTower like it's in the distant past now when talking about PuzzleJuice.  That's weird, since I thought SpellTower was fairly recent.

  • Adams Immersive

    Grabbing it now! SpellTower was neat but had some serious flaws (wacky dictionary—but improving!—and frequent situations where there simply are no moves you can make on the screen edges.)

    Puzzlejuice has dropped to .99, by the way.

  • Anonymous

    Hey look! It's a Day[9]!

  • http://www.the-app-shack.com Matt F

    Bought it after the sale, more than happy with my purchase as this game rocks! very good mix between match-3 and word games