The Only Thing Missing Is Janet Ellis

Don't try and complete it in your head - I've cropped out some of the pieces. Thank goodness I said, eh?

I’m not going to hold it in any longer. I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m just going to… bloody say it. I like jigsaw puzzles. There. Think what you like of me, I just like them, and I’m not going to change for you. That’s how come I just used up all of my free hour with Infinite Jigsaw Puzzle.

The brilliant thing is, everyone does too. You say you don’t, but then your sister is doing one at Christmas, and she’s done all the edge pieces, and there’s this big hole in the bit for the sky and all those various shades of blue pieces, and you can’t resist, can you? It calls to you, a little cardboard siren song, “Go on, you can see where I go, can’t you? Just pop me in place. Just me, that’s all you’ll do.” And you’re in. It seems to work on PC too.

I’ve dallied with jigsaw puzzles on my DS, via Hudson’s completely wonderful series of puzzle games. While the stylus is a natural fit, the screen’s too small, and it’s just not very rewarding. But the PC gives you a big enough screen, and then that rather remarkable joy when two pieces snap together in their marriage of correctness. That they make a little tiny jump to meet each other – it’s as satisfying as playing with magnets. Which is, according to the RPS Big Chart Of Satisfaction, a very satisfying thing indeed.

Is it a train? A bucket and spade? The statue of liberty?

Infinite Jigsaw Puzzle is a bold title. I tried to prove it wrong by counting the number of puzzles it offered, but I got to 83 and I don’t know any numbers higher than that. So that’s close to infinity, and certainly enough to keep most humans entertained. It is, however, a bit buggy, and a little bit too keen on sound effects.

What I want, ideally, is to click on a piece, hold down, and rotate to turn it. But here you have to double click to turn it 90 degrees (to the left, oddly) or right click on it and choose which amount of turnitude you want. And each turn results in a silly noise and sploosh of stars. Stars which, four times out of five, don’t disappear and sit stupidly on the screen until you wipe them up. It means it’s all a bit clunky. And one time I accidentally turned my completed edge pieces by 90 degrees, and they would never come back, stuck halfway off the screen. Which was sad.

It does most things you want. Three difficulty levels, determining the number of pieces in the puzzle, and the option to have them all start off the right way up if you’re a giant wimp. Then you can play without being able to see the final picture, or have it as a little window on the screen, or even fade it fullsize on the background.

Non-British readers - stare in confusion.
Picture nabbed from UKGameShows.

It’s a bit sloppy and broken, but that didn’t seem to stop me from playing it for an hour when I was meant to be doing other work. Which is either testament to the magical powers of the jigsaw puzzle, or proof that Alawar’s game is getting enough right. So, free hour – go on. You know you want to. Imagine all the sky bits!

(PS. I once had a hilarious argument with a mad American gentleman on a forum who said that I was wrong to call jigsaw puzzles “jigsaw puzzles”. Apparently they’re just “puzzles” in America, and then he went on to tell me that a jigsaw was a tool for cutting out detailed shapes, and that I was a horrendous idiot for not knowing this and using the term incorrectly. At no point in his quite remarkable rage about this subject did the connection occur to him. I hope he’s out there, reading, because I think he’s great).


  1. MisterBritish says:

    He was probably a member of the ‘Jigsaw Hardcore’, those who play on rivers of molten lava, or who’s skydiving parachutes only open after the completion of a thousand piece puzzle of a clear sky. Your namby-pamby internet ‘game’ probably undermines the dedication he’s put into honing his craft. An undersandable reaction really.

  2. Nick says:

    Few things are greater than the smell of a cardboard boxed jigsaw freshly opened.

    Used to be that way with PC games too.. stupid DVD cases.

  3. Alan Au says:

    The full version showed up as the promo on a while back, which reminds me that I could load in some Left4Dead screenshots and get some more mileage out of it.

  4. PleasingFungus says:

    As an American, I’ve always called jigsaw puzzles… jigsaw puzzles. As does my family. But we’re probably all just ignorant heretics to the JIGSAW HARDKORE. (Spelled with a ‘k’, of course.)

  5. John Walker says:

    I’d like to stress, as proud as I might be about liking jigsaws, that I wasn’t on a jigsaw forum or anything mad like that. It was a really hilariously out of the blue comment on a comments thread somewhere. I forget where.

    I’d also like to stress that I love Janet Ellis, and want to kiss her on the lips.

  6. The Archetype says:

    It’s been ages since I’ve done a jigsaw puzzle, but when I was three years old I had a ton of 100 to 500 piece puzzles that I would do over and over, and eventually flip over and do without the picture, just going by shape, and I’ve never really stopped enjoying them.

    What I’m trying to say is, thank you so much for telling me about this.

  7. Jonny Robson says:

    Ah great, another game to play. WHEN WILL THIS END? etc.

  8. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    OK, I tried the one-hour demo and instead of filling me with desire to shell out $19.95 for the full version, it instead filled me with desire to find a jigsaw puzzle game that wasn’t so clunky and counterintuitive.

    In other words – I want to buy a jigsaw puzzle game now! Just not this one.

    Any ideas?

  9. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Americans call jigsaw puzzles… jigsaw puzzles. It’s true, our TVs say it is so.

  10. bc9b89 says:

    The whole jigsaw argument is doubly funny because I’m pretty sure the puzzle is named after the tool. When you make one out of wood you use a jigsaw to cut it, so yea, Jigsaw Origns. Now they are made of cardboard, but the name stuck I guess.

  11. Nick says:

    Yeah, that was implied by John at the end, hence the hilarity. The last jigsaw I did was in Professor Layton and the Curious Village, not sure if that counts though.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    I would buy a jigsaw game that wasn’t so terribly broken and that could grab images from google image search or your my pictures folder. Or most terrifyingly of all your internet cache! Also rotation is very important and should have multiple control options, like rolling the mouse wheel and tap right to in right hold right to go left.

    When a game is this close to empty it needs to be just as close to perfect.

  13. Hypocee says:

    Yeah – there are so many full-featured, free jigsaw puzzle programs that’ll do your own pictures (or videos!), that to charge for one you really have to have achieved Nirvana.

    I thought this was going to be a jigsaw program that did some clever wizardry to make, say, a surreal infinite panorama from landscape photos, or scenes out of sprites – an infinite jigsaw that you progress along. I wonder if something like that exists.

  14. gaijin says:

    On topic only re the oldtime BBC programme – I worked with a chap once who had just got a new book about pickling. He was very excited about the prospect of some home made pickles, and one night when we were in the pub he informed me that he now had all the necessaries to begin production. In fact he was off home now to do just that. The next morning I enquired how it had gone and he shook his head morosely. “no ****ing good.” (he swore quite lot) “got home all raring to go with the ****ing pickles, and i couldn’t get int’ ****ing kitchen. Janet Ellis and Sophie Ellis Bextor were in there drinking ****ing tea with the missus.”
    I have thought ever since that I wish that was the kind of problem I have.

  15. Bobsy says:

    Ugh. Jigsaws are great – this isn’t. Sloppy and broken doesn’t come close: it’s a big messy cover for what should be a remarkably simple and free game (there’s no way this is worth $20). All you really need is the ability to import a jpg and have it generate a jigsaw from it. But this thing dresses it up in needless tarty clothing, rams the most insipid, irritating, hateful music into your brain and then sticks an errant hand out to try and get money off you.

    A loading screen for the options menu is automatic fail.

  16. cheeba says:

    Nice touch sneaking Noseybonk in there. Unclean!

  17. Lucky says:

    Meh, Jigsaws Galore has always been quite enough for me. link to

  18. Bobsy says:

    Ah, much better. Thanks Lucky, Jigsaws Galore is far, far superior. And free! (well, free enough)

  19. Herb says:

    I like xjig… but you have to compile it, and it sits best on Linux systems. But you can run it with Cygwin. And script it so it works with whatever images you like. I wrote a handy little wrapper for it called “jigger”…

    Lord, I am a nerd, it seems. But I like jigsaw puzzles on my computer!