I have to be honest and say that for some time I’ve been wary about games written by Tim Collins. I don’t know why but I’ve often struggled with many of the PlayStation Mobile titles that he has developed with many of them having one or more fundamental flaws that have taken them from potentially being quite fun games to titles that I’ve struggled to come to grips with and leaving them relegated to being yet another statistic as part of my ever-expanding PSM collection so as you can understand, I was more than a little apprehensive when Visualize came along…
The idea behind this game is quite simple. It’s a puzzle game comprising of a series of random images and each of these has been “exploded” for want of a better word into literally hundreds of pieces. This exploded view of each picture can be rotated through a full 720 degrees using the Vita’s touch screen, moving each segment of the picture and the aim of the game is to rotate the exploded picture in such a way that the pieces re-align so that the original image is re-assembled before your eyes. Once you solve the puzzle, the game moves onto the next, selected at random from the library of images stored in the game until the timer runs out.
It’s quite a simple concept and dare I say it, a rather original twist on the jigsaw puzzle format. Controlling the game is simplicity itself using touch controls to rotate the puzzle with gestures to flip and rotate the image in the direction you want it to move. The quicker you move your fingers across the screen the faster the puzzle spins and with a little practice you can control the puzzle with a reasonable degree of finesse. The randomised nature of the game – both in terms of the order that pictures are displayed in and the extent to which the images themselves are exploded prevents the game from becoming too predictable each time you play and even though you will soon recognise some of the pictures after playing for a while, knowing what they are and managing to put them back together… now that’s a different matter altogether!
I’ll be honest and say that despite my initial reservations, I actually quite enjoyed playing Visualize. It’s not too taxing on the brain and it’s strangely satisfying each time you manage to complete a picture. There’s no fanfare, no massive reward and you only score a single point for each one that you get right, but there’s a real sense of achievement in doing so, even when you replay the same picture several games down the line and that’s something that has to be applauded. While it may be generally functional in terms of the presentation, everything is there that needs to be and it all does the job fairly well…
I hate to say it but despite this being a fun game (and quite possibly the best PSM release from Tim Collins), it still does has it’s share of issues. My biggest gripe (and something that has proved to be something of a bug-bear for me with all of Tim Collins’ games) is that it still features the same irritating music that has been used on every other one of his other PlayStation Mobile games to-date and I truly wish that he would have turned to some of the free music libraries out there to have sourced something different for his games. I’m sorry but a relaxing puzzle games like this simply don’t work when accompanied by a clichéd 80’s B-movie survival horror score.
Secondly, I have to question the legality of some of the images in the game. Granted, there is a lot of artwork featured, especially considering the small file size but I’d wager that the majority of it isn’t public domain or original artwork created by Tim Collins for the game. There are well known characters and I am sure other artwork that has been taken from online sources or clipart CD-ROMs that are not intended for public, let alone commercial distribution.
Finally, the controls. As I said, the game uses the touch screen to rotate the puzzle but there are times when a gentle motion sends the picture spinning out of control at breakneck speeds and despite its general reliability, there are times when you feel as if you’re not fully in control of where the puzzle is actually going. Because of this, it’s extremely difficult to guide the puzzle where you want, wasting valuable time. I would have preferred the option of being able to use one or both of the analogue sticks which would have offered more precise controls for the game.
When the controls are working in your favour, this can be a really fun, compelling game but that’s also it’s biggest downfall. The controls are so inconsistent that what has the potential to be a really great PSM title has brought it down to something that is really just above average. The solid gameplay is still there and there’s a really great game in there screaming to get out and it you’re willing to cope with the temperamental controls then you’ve got a fun title on your hands and it’s certainly worth getting at the incredibly low price but just be prepared for a little frustration along the way…
At A Glance
- Title: Visualize
- Publisher: Tim Collins / Liquid Games
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 12Mb