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Zenses (Rainforest, Ocean) are what some call lifestyle games. Their tranquil visuals and lade back approach to minigames are aimed at older players looking for some daytime diversion.
Mini games come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relatively short time required to complete a level or two.
Zenses is unique because of its focus on play as a relaxing exercise. These games do keep score, but the focus is very much on the process of playing rather than the end result.
Each of the games provide a series of themed games - with either an Ocean or Forest aesthetic. Whilst varying in challenge and content, each game visually adopts the theme of the title in question. Ocean for example provides games that are mostly played on sand with various shells. Games include Peg Solitaire, Sapphire Wheel, Stack Jack, Flowerboard, Twist'n'Turn, and Treasure Spin.
The niche tailoring of each title hasn't stopped them providing some challenging and genuinely satisfying play experiences. Through the games you will find touches of other well known puzzle and minigames - such as Tetris DS, Puzloop DS and Puzzle Quest DS.
Players are drawn to what the publishers call 'Zen puzzles' (hence the name) and presentation. But there is enough here to keep them coming back even after the novelty has worn off. A day at a spa with some reading material and copy of this game is a compelling proposition for most busy adults.
That said, in a family setting, quite a battle can develop for the top spot on the high score table - which in our case resulted in anything but a Zen like state. Good fun though.
Being a lifestyle product, Zenses will fit into any available time. Each game takes no longer than a few minutes to play. Each of the games has a decent degree of depth - which often requires repeat plays to uncover, and there is sufficient quantity to keep players happy for many hours.
Young players will enjoy the collection, and identifying games, although the more strategic experience may need too much planning.
Intermediates are ideally placed to enjoy the games. Not only is the unusual art style for their benefit, but the slider controlled difficulty level means they can take things at their own pace.
Experts may balk at the popularist interpretation of puzzles games. This harks back to many pen and paper or board games and somewhat sidesteps the more hardcore console puzzle games. In doing this it does offer an alternative to other minigame experiences that should challenge even the most experienced of players.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: