Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles

By: Derek Yu

On: February 8th, 2011

Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles, by Yuan Works

I don’t play a whole lot of puzzle games, but Yuan Works’s Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles caught my eye last week with its fun mechanics, great presentation, and cute Story Mode. The game was originally released in 2007 for the Korean GP2X handheld and was re-released for the Dreamcast a year later (both of these were commercial releases). Its creators recently made the game free to download on Windows.

W&W:PB is a color-matching game, but there are a number of mechanics and features that bring it above and beyond most casual match X’s. One of these features is skill level, which comes in three flavors and is either selected before a versus match or pre-selected for a single-player stage. The skill levels affect the timing of combos and chains during play. For example, on Beginner Skill the player is automatically given a big chunk of time to perform combos after a 5+ match has been made. On Expert Skill, those matches will freeze the play field for a moment and open up opportunities for either Panel De Pon/Tetris Attack-style chains or super cancels for extra combo time. Expert Skill demands better reflexes and pattern recognition, but allows for bigger scores.

Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles, by Yuan Works

To play effectively, you also have to understand full combos, Wind and Void clears, and the “press” that pushes the play field upward until you lose. Fortunately, the extensive Story Mode walks you through each of these ideas, presenting you with various challenges to help you come to grips with the game’s mechanics. The story itself is cute and self-aware, with the two creators (who are brothers) featured as secondary characters trying to finish making the game while you play through it. Completing every stage in this mode is a tough challenge, but if you get stuck there’s a variety of other fun things to try, like unlocking hidden shortcuts on the overworld map, collecting behind-the-scenes development slides, or playing the arcade modes (including a head-to-head Versus Mode against another player or the CPU).

In a crowded genre that’s sometimes resented as a casual mainstay (well, I know I have!), Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles distinguishes itself by pairing indie charm with a high-level of polish and numerous modes and options. Yuan Works seems very close to its fans, too – according to their website, over 500 custom avatars have been created for players for use in the game, and are now being sold for donations to help support new features, like mouse controls and netplay. Definitely worth checking out!

TIGdb: Entry for Wind and Water: Puzzle Battles

  • zeekthegeek

    Their money making method for the free release is brilliant: $10 gets you an original character design of yourself hand-drawn into a sprite that can be used in-game. $15 gets you the same but with additional frames of animation for battle and such.

  • A_courtar

    As an experienced Tetris Attack player, I thought this game would be a breeze to get into, boy was I wrong! It's pretty darn hard. I love the game mechanics though, and the “story” is great fun. Definitely ordering an Ava of myself!

  • oranda

    This game seriously needs an Xbox Arcade/Steam release. It would be so awesome to be able to pop into a quick match with a friend online. As it is, this is a game that just refuses to cease impressing me with the level of polish and sheer amount of stuff in it. And it's a blast to play to boot.

  • MachoMadness

    It doesn't need to be on Steam to support online multiplayer. Just sayin'

  • Ququchocolat

    Boy this game is excellent, it's already been said but the level of polish is impressive.
    I didn't think I could be interested in a puzzlegame story mode but… Well I was wrong, it's kinda fun and has an interesting replay value with the point system !
    Gorgeous :3

  • oranda

    True, but it makes it a lot easier to get multiplayer matches going. See friend online, invite to game.

  • MachoMadness

    The game doesn't have to be on Steam to support friends.

  • Guest Player

    The GP2X was an incredible platform in the 2005-2008 times. A lot of polished independent games, mostly freeware, were made for it. Check out the game archives:

  • oranda

    Also true, but I didn't say you needed steam to support friends. I said it's easier. Otherwise each game has to have it's own redundant friend list, and you need to launch the game just to see who is online, or else you need to IM/call and set the match up beforehand. Being able to see who is online all the time, invite them to a game, and having the service automatically launch and setup the match as soon as they click “accept request” is very convenient.

  • bombboy

    Agh, there's something about the style they use, it's got too much focus on expression and details and not enough construction so the character comes off as a blob of redundant enthusiasm like a pie in your face.

    Only noting this because everything else about this game looks goddarnly fantastic.

  • Guest

    Anyone know how to make it bigger? it's stuck at an unplayable resolution for me. I can't find any option to make the game bigger.

  • Hao

    Are you playing on windows? If yes:
    1) If you installed the game, go to the Start Menu > Wind And Water Puzzle Battles > Wind And Water Puzzle Battles – Config and you'll be able to change it.
    2) if you downloaded the ZIP file, locate WindAndWater_Config.exe and you'll be able to change it.

    If not, you can directly change the file wnw_config.txt and set SCALE to 1, 2, 3, 4 or FULLSCREEN too.

    Hope that helps!

  • Christian J. Ruiz

    damn, i was hoping fora Mac release, this looks rad. my Windows PC is down some stairs that i dont feel like going down right now…

  • shockedfrog

    Version 1.05 is out now, has a few fixes and makes one of the levels a whole lot easier but perhaps most importantly it also adds mouse controls.

    I seriously love everything about this game. :) Easy first candidate for indie GOTY.

  • Doesnot

    I agree, the quality and attention to detail make this (lack of construction) even more obvious… But overall it does look great. Except for the cursor – it should be more contrasted >_<

    The game itself is too hard for me though, too bad. I'll give it another go when I have a day or two off.

  • Ithamore

    This has the most interest story mode I've ever played through in a puzzle game.