Puzz 3D CD: Victorian Mansion

Developer/Publisher:  Wrebbit Interactive
Year Released:  1999

Review by Rosemary Young (November, 1999)
p3dvm.jpgThis Puzz 3D series from Wrebbit Interactive was brought to my attention with considerable praise several months ago by a couple of Quandary readers. Since I have the greatest respect for the opinions of our readers, and as I am a self-confessed jigsaw addict who suffers serious withdrawals because I don't have the time to indulge my passion, it was with great anticipation that I embarked on this project.

Ah ... the relief
I have to say here and now that I wasn't disappointed. I can breathe again because this title definitely satisfies that craving to be mesmerised by tiny crinkly shapes and to get lost in a feast of fitting pieces together. Puzz 3D: Victorian Mansion is the most satisfying electronic jigsaw puzzle I've tackled to date, it's been keeping me up nights and depriving me of sleep. It also has a sweetener at the end and invites you in to explore your completed architectural masterpiece and solve a murder mystery.

The task of seeking and finding is made easy in this title as it has so many useful features. The playing area is a large table that scrolls and has three levels of magnification. You can zoom right in to match patterns, or sort pieces from a distance when detail is not so important. Another useful 'view' takes in the whole table when you can chase up that elusive piece that fell off the edge and got kicked across the floor. Well that's an exaggeration, because you can't, of course, lose bits in an electronic jigsaw (one of their big charms) but pieces can seem to go astray if they slip out of the view area and this feature makes it very easy to find them.

Getting it all together
As you fit together pieces in this project they make a familiar 'snap' as they lock in place. Of course, there is also the challenge of the 3D perspective and the various elevations of the puzzle are isolated into discreet sections. When these are completed a rewarding 'tring' sounds and they can be stored away in the gold tray to await final assembly.

Organisation is made very simple courtesy of sorting trays that can be created and moved around the playing area very easily. They can also be 'anchored' to the bottom of the screen and remain visible when you scroll back and fourth. You can create up to eight trays and name them for easy identification. The reference picture is also easily called up and it has the choice of a variety of perspectives to work from. You can keep this reference as a small graphic on screen or enlarge it to full screen. Really, my only niggle about the game is that you can't zoom in on these reference pictures and scrutinise the minute detail.

There are lots of bonuses including in-game help and a graph that charts your progress. Victorian Mansion also has four difficulty levels which, upon completion, present the player with a key to explore the mansion and solve the mystery. Depending on the difficulty level you have tackled, progressively larger areas of the mansion are opened up. To whet your appetite for this finale tiny snippets of the story are told in short video sequences as you piece together the puzzle. Then when you finally get to explore the interior the magnifying glass symbol initiates more snippets to give you more information until you know all the answers :-). This end-game treat also features a number of simple but fun puzzles. To solve the mystery you must collect the 'clues' (scraps of paper that have either a name, a place or a motive written on them). Just match up the right answer with the list of questions in your notebook and ... success!

Need I say it? I loved this one :). It's exceptionally good for busy jigsaw fans who don't have the time to tackle the 'real thing'. In fact Victorian Mansion comes very close to the 'real thing' and, if you don't want it for yourself, then consider it as a gift for friends who have not yet tried their hand at adventure game playing. It has the familiar jigsaw to draw them in and comfort them, with just a taste of adventuring to assure them that it's not too dangerous! There are so far three titles in this Puzz 3D series ... Notre Dame, Bavarian Castle and Victorian Mansion. For more information check out the Wrebbit website. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1999. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Win 95 or higher, P100 Mhz (200 Mhz recommended), 16MB RAM (24 MB recommended), 45 MB free hard drive space, 2x CD-ROM.
MacOS 7.5 or higher, PowerPC 80 Mhz (200 Mhz recommended) 20 MB RAM (32 MB recommended), 32 MB free hard drive space, 2x CD-ROM.