Game

Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection

A spiritual successor to Microsoft's earlier Entertainment Pack series, The Puzzle Collection features 10 original puzzle games (some of which were designed by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov).

Overview

Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The Puzzle Collection is a puzzle game compilation developed by Mir-Dialogue and published by Microsoft for Windows PCs on July 31, 1997.

A spiritual successor to the original Microsoft Entertainment Pack series of casual PC compilations, The Puzzle Collection features 10 original puzzle games (with some games designed by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov). Unlike the games featured in the original Entertainment Pack compilations, all of the games in The Puzzle Collection were developed by a single third-party studio (Russian developer Mir-Dialogue) and none of them were distributed separately.

Along with a retail release and a limited demo (featuring limited versions of Finty Flush, Rat Poker, and Spring Weekend), the compilation was released as part of some OEM PC distributions. It was later re-released as part of a Microsoft Plus! bundle with Microsoft Bicycle Card Collection (as Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards & Puzzles).

The compilation also received a handheld port to the Game Boy Color by Conspiracy Entertainment. Released by Swing! (in August 2000 in Europe and in October 2000 in North America) as Microsoft Entertainment Pack: The 6in1 Puzzle Collection (titled in-game as Microsoft Puzzle Collection) this version includes ports of six of the 10 original games.

Games Included

Fringer

Played with the Keyboard. Not included in the GBC version.

Players are given a multi-colored series of ropes, which are twisted in knots in multiple places, and must use the cursor (a slanted "frame") to untie knots from the bottom to free up the ropes and remove them from the board.

The frame can move between each two ropes (at the bottom-most valid position, either on a valid knot or below where a rope has a knot) and alternates between two types (blue and red) after each twist. Blue frames slant to the right and untwists knots with the right rope on top. Red frames slant to the left and untwists knots with the left rope on top. Knots where both ropes have the same color are unique in that both frames unravel it.

In addition, a sliding bar periodically moves the ropes down (pushing knots further down while creating new ones at the top). The game ends when a knot reaches the bottom of the board. As players progress through each level, the rate at which the sliding bar moves become faster and more colors of ropes appear.

Aiding the player is three special game mechanics:

  • Bonuses, which are collected by untwisting special "sparkling knots". While they give bonus points if they are kept before the next level, they can be used to change the frame's type at-will. This is crucial in situations where players are stuck in an unwinnable situation (such as when two ropes are left and the frame cannot be used on the current knot).
  • The Candle, which is a limited-time opportunity to remove an entire rope regardless of having knots. This is done by connecting the rope with a red dot on the top with a rope position with a red dot on the bottom.
  • The Paintbrush, which allows players to change the color of the ropes at the frame's current position.

Finty Flush

Played with either the Keyboard or Mouse.

Players are given four empty 4×4 grids and must fill one completely with balls of a single color from the upper grid (which are split into multiple 1×4 columns of balls) to clear it.

Each column of balls are placed as-is from the upper grid to the selected lower grid, in which the balls cannot overlap. Players can manipulate both grids to make valid moves:

  • The upper grid can be moved left and right to choose the next column to drop.
  • The lower grid can be moved left and right to choose where to drop the column. It can also be rotated 90-degrees in both directions to open up new valid places to drop the column.

Additional columns of balls are periodically placed in the upper grid. As the grid gets larger, it becomes less maneuverable (to the point where the outer-most columns cannot be selected). The game ends when there are no empty space in the upper grid for new columns. As players progress through each level, they will have to contend with balls of different colors (first as separate columns, then with multiple colors in the same column). In addition, players can choose a harder difficulty that increases the amount of rate of new columns.

Aiding the player is three special game mechanics:

  • Bonus Points, which are gained by completing levels. Each bonus point can be used up to drop a column where balls will overlap (in which those spaces becomes empty).
  • Paint palette tiles. When dropped onto a space with a ball occupied, it changes the ball's color to match the most common color on that grid.
  • Blot tiles. When dropped onto a space with a ball occupied, it removes that ball.

Mixed Genetics

Played with the Mouse. Not included in the GBC version.

Players are given a variety of mutated animals (each with six body parts, some of which are from different animals) and must place them in test tubes in order to "breed" them, trying to create animals with all body parts of the same type.

New animals are created by placing three of them, side by side, in one of the six test tubes and then clicking on the middle one. Animals can only be bred three times before they disappear (as noted by a heart). Each of the six body parts of each new animal is based on the most common type of all three animals (for example, if two heads are of a lobster, the new one is also of a lobster).

Additional animals are periodically placed in the upper "waiting area" (or, if occupied, to each of the test tubes). Up to 16 can be placed in this area, and up to 5 can be placed in each of the 6 test tubes (for a grand total of 46 spaces). The game ends when no more animals can be added. As players progress through each level, new animals are added and animals have more different body parts.

Rat Poker

Played with the Keyboard.

Rats of different colors enter the playing area and begin walking clockwise around a path, and players must form lines of rats in a specific pattern (usually multiples of a same color) in order to allow them to exit.

To organize these rats, players make use of traps that grabs and releases them. Some levels have traps with "arms" that can be moved (allowing players to either move rats to different traps or to keep them in "reserve").

As rats continue entering the playfield, it can get overrun. The game ends when no more rats can be added. As players progress through each level, new playfields and trap layouts are used, new rat colors are added (including white rats, which can be used with any other color), new hand types are added, and rats can carry symbols that double (plus sign) or halve (minus sign) of the pattern they're in.

Lineup

Played with the Mouse.

Players must place various pentominoes comprised of sports balls on the playfield to form a continuous line from one end to the other (horizontally or vertically) to clear all of the shapes used.

Each piece can be placed anywhere on the playfield (by its center white ball) where it doesn't overlap any other pieces. As the game progresses, players get a queue of pieces to add, which gets new pieces periodically. The game ends when no more pieces can be added to the queue. As players progress through each level, the rate at which new pieces are added is increased. In addition, players can choose a harder difficulty that adds unususable Dirt Patches from the start.

In addition, players can surround special tiles with pieces to give them special benefits:

  • Clock - Temporarily stops new pieces from being added to the queue.
  • Scorecard - Gives additional points.
  • Medal - Clears the playing field.
  • Golf Ball - Gives a bonus ball, which can be used to either make the next queue piece rotatable (1 ball) or to clear a Dirt Patch (3 balls).

In addition, Garbage Can tiles can appear that add a unusuable Dirt Patch tile on the board every time a line is made. They can only be removed by surrounding the tile (which also removes the Dirt Patches they add).

Jewel Chase

Played with the Keyboard.

A maze game where players move a thief around a multi-colored game board, stealing as much as loot as they can and making it to the exit before a second computer-controlled rival thief.

The game board is comprised of different-colored tiles, and thieves can only move along tiles of same color (automatically jumping to the next available tile if tiles of another color are between them). In order to switch colors, they must move to a tile containing multiple colors (one of which must be their current one). Some tiles are locked and can only be opened by collecting switches, keys, or bombs.

The game includes 99 total game boards and four difficulty levels (each changing the speed of the rival thief). The easiest game difficulty, Training, removes the rival thief entirely while also not keeping score.

Color Collision

Played with the Keyboard.

An action-puzzle game players must correctly hit circles (with different colored outlines) with their colored "collider" piece to clear them. Depending on the game level, additional objectives are used to determine how players receive bonus power-ups (such as colliding with five circles that show smiling faces).

The collider piece is unique in that it moves diagonally (no matter what direction is pressed), but rotates on itself and leaves a trail (similar to the titular enemies in the 1981 arcade game QIX). If it collides with a circle with a different color outline, it changes it to a colored "stick" and invalidates both bonus progress and stick recovery. Sticks can only be changed back by colliding with five sticks of the same color. If a collider hits a stick of a different color, then they lose a life. The game ends when all lives are lost. Higher difficulties increase the speed of the collider.

When players generate a bonus power-up, it replaces a group of five progress balls with the power-up itself (also making it faster to clear the level). Each power-up does a different thing to aid the player:

  • Heart: Gives an extra life.
  • Frozen Block: "Freezes" all circles and sticks except those whose color matches the collider, allowing players to bounce off of them safely.
  • Coin: Gives bonus points.
  • Palette: Changes the colors of the collider, all circles, and all sticks.
  • Medical Kit: Turns all sticks back into circles.
  • Bubble: Removes an additional group of progress balls.
  • Question Mark: Any of the above six power-ups at random.

Charmer

Played with the Keyboard. Not included in the GBC version.

Each playfield has open pots of different colors, all of them with snakes in them. Players must charm these snakes using different types of flutes in order to have them catch falling lids (preventing them from closing the pot and costing a life) or to have them reach a vine (clearing the pot and progressing through the level).

Spring Weekend

Played with the Mouse.

Players must arrange a hexagonal grid of pieces into a certain pattern before they run out of moves. They can only rotate a group of surrounding pieces by highlighting the center piece and either right-clicking (clockwise) or left-clicking (counter-clockwise).

Unlike most games, Spring Weekend is not timed and can be solved in a leisurely pace.

Muddled Casino

Played with the Keyboard. Not included in the GBC version.

Players have a group of "cards" on the table (each with their own unique suit and shape/color) and must attempt to move each card, in a specific order, to the exit by moving all cards in groups (either by their suit towards the exit, or by their shape/color away from the exit).

Groups themselves can only move if none of the cards would fall off the table edge in that direction, requiring careful management of the table. However, players can "knock" cards off the table to force the group movement. Once all cards are cleared, either by reaching the exit or being knocked off the table, players progress to the next level.

Unless the player is playing in Training mode, the game requires placers to wager bets in order to progress. Players start with 100 points and must bet 8 chips, all of which are of certain denominations (5, 10, 25, or 50). For each card that reaches the exit, the player wins two chips. The game ends when players cannot make the minimum bid of 40 points.

In addition, the following objects can appear on the table to aid or hinder the player:

  • Bumper: Blocks individual cards without blocking the entire group.
  • Black Hole: Blocks individual cards while blocking the entire group, similar to a table edge.
  • Dice: Teleports an individual card to the other Dice object. Both dice objects disappear after one use.
  • Joker: Provides an alternate exit for the required card. Also acts as a Black Hole. Disappears after one use.

Unlike most games, Muddled Casino is not timed and can be solved in a leisurely pace.