In the past, Microsoft's games have had a history of being forgettable or lackluster, but this entry certainly breaks with that tradition. It's easily one of the best jigsaw puzzle games I've come across, and that's not for lack of competition. The biggest downside is that it's ad-supported
, though for about $10 a year you can upgrade to the premium edition and eliminate that problem.
One of the reasons that this game stands out so much is that there are several ways to solve puzzles. These are the Classic jigsaw games, Jigsaw Jams, and the Daily Challenges.
Classic games are pretty much what you would expect: You simply choose your picture, the number of pieces, and then quietly reassemble the image by snapping the pieces together. For a little extra help, you can use trays to group pieces or just move a number of them out of the way for a while. Once the puzzle is assembled, you win. If this was a puzzle created by Microsoft, you'll also be rewarded with some "gold bars", a type of virtual currency that you can use to buy new sets of jigsaws from the in-game store.
The Jigsaw Jam games are faster paced puzzles where you're given the next piece to connect and a limited amount of time to connect it. The faster you connect pieces and the fewer mistakes you make, the higher your score. Also, each round has you solve several small jigsaw puzzles in sequence, not just one puzzle.
Lastly, there are the Daily Challenges. There are three challenges available for each day of the month, but they are only available for playing once that date has passed. There are three types of challenges: Lock Breaker, Bug Catcher, and Jigsaw Jam. In the Lock Breaker challenge, you're given a limited number of attempts to connect a specific number of pieces to a golden lock in the play area. The Bug Catcher minigame
also has a move limit, but instead of just connecting pieces wherever they fit, you're goal is to trap a little bug that's wandering on the puzzle. Fortunately, you're shown where the bug can go next, allowing you to see how to trap it. The Jigsaw Jam challenge plays exactly the same way as the normal Jigsaw Jam game, so if you're fond of that mode, check the Daily Challenge section for more of the same.
Large supply of jigsaws to play
The in-game store houses a surprisingly large number of collections for you to purchase with either real money or gold bars. In most cases, the more puzzles there are in a collection, the higher the price. There are several free collections to choose from however, so there are plenty of options for those on a budget.
Gold is easily earned
Achievements and Medals
If you don't want to use real money, you can spend gold bars to purchase new content
for the game. Gold bars are easily earned through normal gameplay (especially
the daily challenges), so if you have the time to enjoy the puzzles, you can earn a lot of gold bars without much effort. Completing a single puzzle on each level of difficulty will often earn you over 1,200 gold bars, so play on!
You can make your own puzzles
For folks that enjoy earning achievements
, sign into the game with your Windows / Xbox account. Aside from the monthly challenge medals, there are a number of other medals and achievements
you can earn while playing this game.
Helpful puzzle solving features
Making custom content
is incredibly easy: just pick an image on your computer and you're ready to go. Custom puzzles you've made are stored in their own column, and like regular puzzles, they record which difficulties you've completed so far. There's even a medal for making your own puzzle and exporting it so that other people can try it out. The downside to playing custom puzzles is that you never earn gold bars from completing them.
When playing a Classic game, you can use multiple trays to store, sort or move the pieces around. This can help make the puzzles with large piece counts easier to manage. There's also a button that arranges the pieces on the table for you. This mostly pushes everything to the left hand side, but it also sorts the edges of the puzzle into their own piles, saving you the trouble of picking them out manually.
The pieces are always right side up
This game makes up for being free by featuring advertising. Every so often (usually the first time you play after starting the App
) you'll be presented with a 30 second video advertisement. There's no way to skip these ads, but they are brief enough not to interrupt the game -- most of us have dealt with longer and more boring loading screens
. During the gameplay itself, there's a square banner ad in the lower right corner. It's pretty ignorable and unobtrusive.
Premium's cost may outweigh the benefits
My biggest complaint with this game isn't the ads, the microtransactions
or the price for the premium version. It's that the pieces cannot be rotated. This means they'll always be facing the correct way, removing some of the difficulty of traditional jigsaw puzzles.
It uses Notifications for some reason
The premium version of the game offers several features: no ads, you'll be able to see what the completed puzzle looks like at any time, the Classic game's sidebar can be tucked away for extra room, and you'll even gain extra gold bars and coins when you complete the daily challenges. The catch is that the upgrade to the premium version is only temporary. You can purchase either a month or a year of premium at a time, and once the time runs out you'll be prompted to either buy more time or revert to the ad-supported
While playing the Daily Challenges, it's possible for you to do something that doesn't advance your progress but does count against your move limit. When this happens, you'll get a notification that explains that you've lost a move. The problem here is that this is message appears outside of the game (it's a standard Windows notification), which can be confusing. It also means that you're going to have to go through your notifications and delete every notice the game sent you. Why Microsoft chose to do it this way is beyond me.
Some fantasy puzzles are available
Game content can be purchased with real money
When it comes to the puzzles themselves, the most objectionable content
I saw was a few collections based on some high fantasy. Stuff like knights in shining armor, dragons, fairies; that sort of thing. The easiest way to avoid this content
is simply not to buy those collections. There are a huge number of collections to choose from, and the number of collections with fantasy artwork is extremely small compared to the number of options you have.
Premium is temporary
This game features a number of places where you can spend real money
for more content
. Most of these areas also accept gold bars, a currency that you earn through normal gameplay, so if you're a decent enough player you can pay for everything with virtual money and never spend a dime.
Be aware that while the premium version of the game has a number of perks, it's also not a one time fee, and over time this will eventually add up. Only go for the premium version if you think you'll be getting your money's worth out of the deal. For me, not seeing the same advertisement for the millionth time the was worth buying a few months of premium.