Puzz 3D CD: Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light

Developer/Publisher:  Wrebbit Interactive
Year Released:  2001

Review by Rosemary Young (April, 2002)
This 3D jigsaw puzzle game is the fifth one released by Wrebbit Interactive. Besides Thomas Kinkade, I've played 2 others (Victorian Mansion and Orient Express) in their entirety, plus one (Bavarian Castle) that is half finished because it was put on hold so I could review this latest game. This one is a cut down version of the previous games, far less meaty, so it doesn't have as much to offer.

Getting started
As with all Puzz 3D CD titles there is a useful tutorial to complete to introduce you to the mechanics of the game. There are also the usual 4 tiers of difficulty but this time the levels range from 85 pieces at the easiest level up to 258 for the most difficult level - this can be compared with approximately 250 and 700-900 pieces respectively for the other games. Quite a marked difference although I didn't notice this until it occurred to me that I had almost completed the jigsaw at the highest difficulty level in just a few hours, not all that much longer than it took me to sort the pieces on previous occasions.

Hence Thomas Kinkade is a considerably shorter experience. It also lacks the mystery story component that has accompanied other titles. Instead of being welcomed by one of the story characters and getting snippets of the action as you progress, in this game you are immediately placed in the jigsaw screen and invited to start sorting and linking pieces together

The bits and pieces
This latest title is therefore an uninterrupted jigsaw experience until the end when, depending on the difficulty level you tackled, you are presented with a key to explore different sections of your creation. The jigsaw part of the game is very familiar with the pieces locking together with a satisfying 'click'. There is constant access to a help page, plus three levels of magnification, and the ability to create multiple trays to sort pieces as you go.

As with the other games there is a range of 'view' icons: one that allows you to zoom in on different parts of the horseshoe table (or playing area), one that gives access to different views of the puzzle picture you are creating, and one that accesses the construction area where you finally fit the 3D pieces together. There is also a graph that displays how much of the jigsaw you have completed and you can enable the 'clock' to continually monitor your progress.

The ending
Of course there is no denouement of a story this time just the opportunity to explore your creation, Kinkade's Lamplight Manor. This exploration involves wandering through a few rooms and inspecting a range of Kinkade paintings, some of which can be scrolled to reveal even more. There are a few activities including adding coloured paints to one, degrees of light and shade to another, and three of them divide up into pieces and give you plenty of practice at sliding tile puzzles. These were my favourites J . A large composite puzzle also displays small cut out sections taken from the various paintings in the house, and you are challenged to identify which painting each one belongs to by adding the painting title beneath the relevant extract.

Whether or not you are interested in this latest Puzz 3D CD probably depends somewhat upon your liking (or not) for the works of Thomas Kinkade. I hadn't heard of him, and as I'm not enamoured with picture-postcard-perfected painting, I haven't become a fan. But I am not an art critic so you should make up your own mind. However, there's a lot more value as well as a lot more interesting tidbits wrapped up in the earlier Puzz 3D CD titles if you take the accompanying stories and the historical commentaries into account. Not only did I enjoy the earlier titles more but I also enjoyed them for considerably longer. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2002. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows95, 98, 2000 or ME, Pentium 166 (266 Mhz recommended), 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended), 45 MB free hard drive space, Video and Display 640X480 or 800X600 (16 bit colors), Direct X 8.0 certified video drivers, 2 x CD ROM (minimum), Direct X compatible Sound card, Mouse.