Puzzle me this my friend!
Tangram is a fairly obscure puzzle game for the CD-i that also appeared on many other platforms including the PC, Atari ST and Amiga (by the legendary Thalion) as well as a multitude of clones under different names. Tangram was also resurrected more recently for the Nintendo DS where it works particularly well thanks to the touch screen and stylus. Tangram is actually based on an ancient Chinese game that was played with tiles, but it’s probably better known as one of those cheap little plastic games that you often find in Christmas crackers! This might not sound like a great set for a game on a machine such as the CD-i, where you would most likely expect something a bit more advanced, but you’d be pleasantly surprised. Any owners of Philips’ ill-fated multimedia console should definitely read on.
The best way to describe Tangram is that there is a square in the corner of the screen that is divided into flat sided blank shapes that must be moved into spaces in the middle of the screen to make up a picture. But this is not as easy as it first sounds though as each one is a different size and shape so often have to rotate the pieces round several times before they will even fit into the image. Then just when you think you’ve got it you find out that the last piece won’t fit and you have to start again! I should also mention that each puzzle in Tangram must be completed within a strict time limit, so you can’t spend too much time thinking about it. Then there are also the jigsaw like levels where the picture is actually put onto the pieces themselves and, as before, you must find the correct way to put them together and solve the puzzle. When you complete each of the puzzles you get some lovely little FMV sequences where the pictures are brought to life. It’s really cool watching how the weird angular depictions you start with are brought to life! I was also surprised just how many different combinations of shapes they actually managed to come up with, the programmers were certainly very creative here.
Visually Tangram is more than competent. While the in-game graphics are pretty standard the funky animations really add something to the overall product. As far as audio goes it’s all pretty standard stuff, but nice enough in the most part, with lots of Chinese themed music and sound effects present. Best of all though Tangram is just furiously addictive, just as a good puzzle game should be. You are going to be playing this again and again, tearing your hair out every time you can’t get the pieces to fit! Tangram is fun, well presented and has rightly taken its place among my favourite Philips CD-i games, without doubt it’s an essential purchase for puzzle games fans and those of you looking for something a bit more cerebral to take up your time.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Philips CD-i (reviewed), Atari ST, Amiga, PC, Nintendo DS ; Publisher: Eaglevision Interactive ; Developer: EagleVision Interactive ; Players: 1 ; Released: 1992 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: N/A