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The Only Thing Missing Is Janet Ellis

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).

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