In the realm of puzzle games, almost everything has been done before. I picked up Zen Puzzle Garden a while back and was surprised to not only see a new concept, but amazing polish, as well.

For those not familiar with zen gardens, the goal is to rake them such that all the sand has the line pattern of the rake and there are no footsteps. With Zen Puzzle Garden the development team at PikPok has translated this into a rather beautiful game.

Each puzzle gives you a zen garden that’s ornamented slightly different, with rocks and other decorations placed in unique ways. Your goal is to tell the young student which lines to take to rake the sand. the gardens surrounded by cement blocks, giving you an easy way to measure the thickness of the rake. You tell the student where to begin, and where to end. He will rake the straightest line possible, only turning if an area is already raked, or if there’s an obstacle in the way. Due to this, you need to plan your moves VERY carefully.

The game features a modernistic take on classical Japanese music (adding electronic drums to the original) which is quite nice. While playing through the puzzle mode, you can unlock items to add to your own personal zen garden, caring for it however you see fit. My favorite touch, was the nice Buddhist quotes on the loading screens. They’re quite motivational.

In Conclusion

Zen Puzzle Garden captures the essence of a Japanese tradition and transforms it into a modern puzzle game requiring the same virtues of both patience and concentration. The inclusion of both OpenFeint and Game Center achievements, ensures that the competitive players out there won’t be disappointed. As a lover of good puzzlers, I can’t recommend this enough to iPad owners.