When the game is called Puzzle Boy you don't really know what you're going to get. Talk about a vague title, all I know is that it probably stars a boy and he's probably going to be involved in some puzzle solving. But think about it; how cool would it have been if Puzzle Boy was actually an action packed first-person shooter? Or maybe a Grand Theft Auto-clone. But maybe that's not a good idea after all, because Puzzle Boy is actually one of the best puzzle games on the TurboGrafx-16 (or in this case, the PC Engine), a game that everybody who loves a good puzzler should check out.
Puzzle Boy (which is not to be confused with Boy Puzzle, the vastly different PC game) is an oddly addictive maze game that showed up on the PC Engine and the Game Boy. In fact, when I was younger I owned Puzzle Boy for my Game Boy, but had completely forgotten about it until now. The moment I picked up my PC Engine control I was immediately reminded of all the good times I had trying to solve these puzzles. The good news is that I had just as much fun going through the game today as I did way back then.
Puzzle Boy doesn't pull any punches; this is exactly what the title says. You play a boy and it's your job to figure out a number of different challenging puzzles. The puzzles come in a few different varieties, but for the most part your job is to make it from the start of the level to the end (which is marked by a staircase icon). Of course, this is easier said than done.
As you play through the dozens of puzzles you will no doubt notice that they continue to come back to a few common themes. For example you will find a lot of puzzles that require you to puss boxes around, fill in large gaps and manipulate Tetris-like pieces in the right way all in the hopes of getting to the end of the level. As you progress through the game you will find that the levels become increasingly more difficult, to the point where some of the levels may actually take you a half hour before you finally get them.
Puzzle Boy is so simple that you won't even need two hands to play it. There's no need to push any buttons (unless you want to stop the game or start the level over), so all you're left to do is control the little puzzle boy with the D-pad. This manages to keep things simple and the controls are receptive for the most part. There were a few times when the controls felt sluggish, but this isn't a big deal in a puzzle game such as this.
Since this is a puzzle game you can't expect much from the graphics. In fact, you won't even be able to tell that this is a 16-bit game. Your character is teeny tiny and the mazes are made up of simple sprites that repeat so often you'll wonder how long it took the developers to make this. But in this type of games graphics don't matter, you'll have fun solving the puzzles no matter how terrible the characters look.
Along with the straight forward puzzle mode you will also find a few extras. If you don't want to take your time solving the puzzles you can always try to solve them in the Timed Mode. There is also a Competitive Mode that is mostly forgettable. These modes are nice to have, but the real reason to play Puzzle Boy is to see how many levels you can get through.
Puzzle Boy may not appeal to everybody, but this is a well crafted puzzler that does everything it's supposed to do extremely well. With its diverse puzzles and fast-paced game play it's easy to recommend a game like this. If you're the type of person who enjoys a good maze then Puzzle Boy is one game you should track down.