I can still remember when my parents bought me my Game Boy. They also bought me a copy of Super Mario Land. I played the crap out of that game, but my attention eventually turned to this strange game that came with the system. It was called Tetris. As a kid, I didn’t understand the impact this game would have on the world. I just knew I loved it more than anything else I’d played, yet. This simple Game Boy game that I never intended to play introduced me to puzzle games and they’ve been my favorite genre, yet.
Many games have tried to recapture the magic of Tetris since then (Bejeweled being the most successful, I think). Zen Training is another in that line of puzzle games. Like Tetris, you have to cope with things falling from top to bottom on the screen that slowly increase in speed as you move higher in levels.
Zen Training uses very nice elements to set the mood of the game. The images and music are Japanese in origin and are very pretty and relaxing. I’ve seen a lot of games try to go this route, but this is one of the more successful cases. Nothing is too overdone or cheesy.
The gameplay is well done, as well. Gems fall from the top of the tree and you have to catch them on the matching colors around the base of the tree by spinning it around. As you level up, you can have two or three gems falling at the same time that all have to be caught at once. Things will also get faster the further you go. In between levels, you will sometimes be rewarded with a bonus level. The goal of the game is just to get as many points as possible before you run out of “health” by missing catches. The game has two different modes, but I couldn’t tell a difference between them in the time I spent playing.
As far as puzzlers go, this is a very nice distraction and worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre. That said, it may get repetitive and stale after a while if you’re not competing for points against your friends. It’s certainly worth the price of admission and a game I can justifiably back as an old school Tetris fan.