Both my six-year-old Philip and I love puzzles. This includes abstract puzzles, such as Tetris. So it’s no wonder that when the developers of Ubongo - Puzzle Challenge contacted us about their brand new game, Philip quickly took a liking to it.
Ubongo is a familiar name for me because I used to own a physical board game store a few years ago. I’ve always loved playing Euro board games, and I’m looking forward to the days when my kids are old enough to play them. In the mean time, Ubongo - Puzzle Challenge has shown me that maybe my kids are ready for them sooner than what I estimated.
The Game Modes
The gameplay is straightforward. For each puzzles, you are given three or more Tetris-like pieces. You can tap to rotate them, double tap to flip them, and drag to position them correctly within the puzzle. Your task is to fit all the pieces to solve the puzzle.
To keep things interested, Ubongo Puzzle Challenge has three different single-player game modes and one multiplayer game mode. The first game mode is called Level Rush. Within a given time limit, you’re tasked to solve the puzzle and unlock the next level. In total, there are 330 levels that you can play in this game mode.
The second game mode is called Time Attack. You start with an allowance of 150 seconds, and you work your way to solve one puzzle after another. Each time you solve a puzzle, you will get a 15-second time bonus and some jewels as your reward. Try to beat your own high score by going as far as you can with the starting 150 seconds.
The last single-player game mode is called Free Mode. In this game mode, you’re not rushed by any timer. Instead, you get to play with a puzzle for as long as you need. You can even choose the number of pieces that you want to include in the puzzle. The game is capable of generating more than 6,000 random puzzle combinations within the Free Mode.
Parents Need to Know
Ubongo Puzzle Challenge is an adaptation of a popular Euro board game series with the same name. In the original board game, players compete to solve individual puzzles as quickly as they can in order to make progress in the game.
The game is an abstract puzzle game. Because of this, both the board game designer and the app developers recommend this game for kids ages 8+. But, based on my experience playing it with my six-year-old, younger kids can enjoy the game if they’re familiar with the abstract concept of the game.
Most of the gameplay modes in Ubongo Puzzle Challenge do not require an Internet connection. The multiplayer may require one, but I didn’t try it. Personally, I much prefer solving the puzzles on my own when I’m relaxing. The app is a paid app, and it doesn’t have any third-party ads and in-app purchases.
Things I Like
The gameplay in Ubongo Puzzle Challenge is intuitive to learn. Once you’ve learned how to flip, rotate, and position the pieces, you can basically play any puzzle the game throws at you. Yet, it has the characteristics of a great game by being challenging enough to master. For example, both the Level Rush and Time Attack modes give you a limited amount of time to solve the puzzle. With a time pressure, suddenly solving puzzles isn’t so trivial as you would with no timer.
The game difficulty also increases when there are more pieces involved. Even the Free Mode can show a good illustration of this when a 6-tile puzzle is much more difficult to solve than a 3-tile puzzle.
If you love puzzles, you're going to love Ubongo Puzzle Challenge. It has thousands of levels to keep you company for many hours. It it's intuitive to learn yet far from trivial to master. And, it's accessible to anyone in the family.
App was provided for our honest review.