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Zenses: Rainforest

Score: 89%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: The Game Factory
Developer: Shin'en
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

There are not many games out there that seek to relax you. Zenses: Rainforest promises to relax you with the soothing sounds and images of the rainforest, while simultaneously stimulating your mind with challenging puzzles.

I've got to give it to them, the graphics and sounds are wonderfully relaxing. The background images are just plain beautiful. They're still shots of the actual rainforest (or at least I'm assuming it's the real rainforest). Some of the puzzles only take up the bottom half of the board, so you've got the whole top screen to just stare at the beautiful images. Some puzzles take up both halves, but even then, the scenery is incorporated into the game in ways like the pieces are flowing down a waterfall.

The background music is equally relaxing. I seriously considered leaving the headphones on and letting it put me to sleep for the night. Not that it's so boring that you'll fall asleep instantly. They just made good on the promise to relax you. As an added bonus, you can go download six of the tracks from the game. The directions to do so are at the end of the instructions in the manual. They are really wonderful for listening to while relaxing!


Gameplay:

Zenses: Rainforest is comprised of six different puzzle type games for you to play. Each of these has a list of challenges for you to meet as well. The first of these is Treasure Spin. As it sounds, the point is to rotate the board to get the flowers on the screen to all be touching. You also want to do this as quickly as possible using the fewest number of moves.

The second game is Stack Jack. In it, you have these pretty shapes falling down a beautiful waterfall. You'll notice that there are 3 sizes of each shape. The goal is to get three of the same shape of different sizes together. If you hit any of the other shapes or the same size piece, both pieces will disappear.

The third game is Twist 'N' Turn. Here, you'll have rings with stones on them. You need to rotate the rings and/or shift the stones between rings to get them to match the pattern shown on the top screen. The further you get, the more rings there will be to work with.

Next there is Flower Board. In it, you get a board with pretty flowers on it. At the bottom of the board are flowers that you can use to match the patterns on the top of the screen. Be careful because you have a limited amount of flowers to clear the board.

After that is Sapphire Wheel. It is like a tangram that you spin the pattern instead of the pieces to fit everything in. The pieces are on the left. Try and use up the bigger ones first. Otherwise, you might get stuck. If you can't fit any of the pieces in, you lose.

Finally, there is Solitaire. You'll have stones on various shaped boards. You need to jump one stone over the other and end up with just one stone left. That final stone has to end up on the target square. You'll recognize it by the circular target on it.


Difficulty:

Zenses is an easy game to learn to play. Before each of the games, it tells you want to do. You use the touch screen for everything, so if you don't know how to do something, just touch it and try. The game gets progressively harder after each level that you clear, so don't think that beating every challenge is a cake walk.

There are five challenges for every puzzle. Usually they involve making it to a certain round and getting a certain number of points. There are bonus rounds on almost all of the games to help you achieve the scores that you need. Even if you don't do anything on the bonus rounds, you can't lose. If you don't meet the requirements to pass the levels though, your game is over. It will automatically save your score and display the high scores list after you lose. It will also tell you if you managed to meet any of the challenges.

One thing I did have problems with was the Stack Jack puzzle. So far, I have yet to make it past round 10 without the DS locking up completely and emitting a high pitch whine. At that point, I have to turn off the game and reload it, losing all my progress. Hopefully that is just a bug in my copy.


Game Mechanics:

Zenses: Rainforest uses the touch screen for everything. You might as well ignore the buttons unless you want to pause the game. The (Start) button pauses the game. Each level does have different things that you will need to do. For Treasure Spin, you'll need to tap the left and right arrows to turn the screen. Sometimes you'll have to tap certain blocks on the screen to get them to move out of the way. Stack Jack is really easy to play. You simply tap on the shape and drag the stylus to drag the shape where you want it. Twist 'N' Turn is the only one that I had any slight problems with the controls. To turn the wheel, you tap and drag. To move the stones, you tap on them and drag too. Every once in a while, it would drag the wrong direction if I wasn't careful. But that wasn't very often. In Flower Board, you just tap on the flower you want and tap where you want to put it. For the Sapphire Wheel, you tap the left and right buttons to rotate the wheel and tap and drag the gem into the spot you want. It has to fit that way; you cannot rotate the pieces. For Solitaire, you tap the stone and tap where you want the stone to land.

Other than the lock-up issue, I have really enjoyed Zenses: Rainforest. It is exactly as it promises, a relaxing game that also stimulates your mind. If you're looking for a challenging puzzle game that still keeps your blood pressure low, you should definitely check out Zenses: Rainforest today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Nintendo Wii Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009 Windows American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella

 
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