The Happy Puzzle Company have developed a strong niche for publishing puzzle games. We've previously featured Genius Square, Genius Star and 30 Cubed - all attractive two-dimensional puzzlers - but DropZone, devised by SeeSaw Game Design Studio, is essentially a puzzle game pushed into the third dimension.
DropZone comprises two identical sets of components for assembly into marble runs - or in this case runs into which you'll be dropping a ball bearing. The component set includes six coloured 'wells' that fit on the six pegs of a baseplate, plus a series of ramps and bridges for connecting the wells. 'Towers' can be aded to a well to raise the height of a bridge piece. The logic puzzle challenge comes with the hefty deck of 100 challenge cards, sorted into four levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, Hard and Fiendish. These show how the wells are to be connected so that the ball bearing runs in the direction indicated. It sounds easy. It isn't! At first, members of the Board's Eye View review team struggled with even the 'Easy' cards.
If you enjoy a challenging logic puzzle, there's plenty here to keep you occupied just playing solo. But there are two sets of components. That means you can compete head to head with an opponent, racing to be the first to complete a challenge card. Play solo and it can be a leisurely brain burner but having two players racing each other injects a shot of adrenaline into the mix. If you're only playing DropZone as a solitaire game tho' and want to replicate something of the challenge of the head-to-head mode, try setting a timer so that you only 'win' if you solve the puzzles before the timer runs out...
The box comes with two custom six-sided dice for use when playing against an opponent. One die is used to set the difficulty of the challenge card while the other determines whether or not players can peek at the clues on the reverse side of the challenge card. You can also use the clue side as a catch-up mechanic for a player who is struggling to compete: a way of levelling the playing field between players of different aptitudes.
DropZone is definitely a step up in difficulty from the other Happy Puzzle Company games that we've played previously. The box includes solutions for all 100 challenge cards - tho' the solutions aren't exclusive: we loved the fact that for most of the challenges, you could work out alternative solutions. Indeed, you can use this fact to add to DropZone's replayability: when you've worked your way through all the challenges, you can challenge yourself to find a second solution for each one (tho' be warned, the rules indicate that for the majority of the Fiendish challenges there is only a single solution).