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Jigsaws Galore (Windows)

Jigsaws Galore Windows (v1.2) Splash screen

MISSING COVER

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Tiger Heli (1)
Written on  :  Jul 15, 2014
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars
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Summary

Great game

The Good

Very well implemented.

I especially like being able to import my own pictures.

Suggestions:

You want the initial picture to be about 1/2 the screen resolution. i.e for a 1024x768 screen, a 500x375 px image works well. This allows puzzle to be solved in the center of the screen, with the pieces at the edge and not touching them.

A 350-piece puzzle usually takes 1-2 hours to solve and is about right, in my opinion.

As the help says - use the oddness factor. A puzzle with few distinct colors and textures should use a high oddness (6-7) so you can solve it by shape. A puzzle with very distinct colors should have a low oddness (3-4) so that a lot of the pieces look the same and it doesn't become too easy.

I recently upgraded to Version 7.14 of Jigsaws Galore. Version 7 offers a number of upgrades and the program was very good previously.

- The main reason for upgrading was the save function. It would fail fairly often in Version 5.07 - so far in Version 7.14, it is flawless. It is also automatic. You never have to tell it to save, it just saves your progress and shows where you left when you re-open the game. It even shows thumbnails of your progress.

- The selection screen is also greatly improved. Previously, you have about five visible thumbnails per folder and then you had to scroll with arrows to select additional thumbnails. Now, there is basically an entire "desktop" with roughly 30-40 jigsaws viewable and additional jigsaws in folders.

- The playfield also now has a textured background, making it look like a card table. It probably makes the puzzles more difficult to solve, but it makes it more realistic and adds a nice touch. And it is optional.

- Version 7 also introduced a mystery mode - where it will hide the thumbnails, the photo, and the ghost picture options - so you don't know what you are working on. Unfortunately, you know about where you selected from - so if you know you had ten animal puzzles and you picked from the middle - you might have a fair idea what the puzzle will be.

- I think it was prior to Version 7, but later than Version 5, but there were a number of fun shapes (rabbits, stars, cats) added for puzzle pieces. Not my thing, but you can turn them off if you don't like them. One thing that I didn't realize is that the game doesn't necessarily use the same settings as the puzzle was created with. A lot of my old puzzles were opening with the piece size at 200% and with a lot of the new fun shapes. I found out there are a lot of sub-items on the "Choose" button of the interface.

o Number of pieces - Use Jigsaw setting is the default, but you can also choose Easy, Medium, Hard, or custom. This is a nice feature - especially if you either want to let a child play or want a challenge, but don't want to go to the trouble of editing and creating a brand new puzzle. o Piece Style - Use Jigsaw setting is the default, but you can also choose Classic, Blip, Squares, Stars, Bubbles, or Mixture. There is also a Surprise setting where you won't know what the puzzle will use until you open it. o Fun Pieces - Default is sparse, but you can also set Use Jigsaw Setting (which I chose), none, medium, dense, or all. o Picture Size. (This is what was making my pieces 200%). I think the default is "Default", which I think scales the puzzle to the window size. You also have small, medium, large, and custom. If you choose Custom, you can set the picture size to between 20 and 300% of either the original area or the playfield. Personally, I wanted 100% of the original image.

Version 5.07 had several options for background music, which I found annoying and turned off. It looks like that feature was removed from Version 7.

Other than that - (and I don't miss that), I can't find anything that Version 5 did that was better than Version 7.

The Bad

I have version 5.07 and often if I try to save a game, when I re-open it, it will say "This is not a valid jigsaw." (This only affects my saved game. The puzzle itself still opens, but all my progress is lost and I have to start the puzzle over.)

Doesn't follow any particular pattern (sometimes the same puzzle will save fine when it didn't previously) and might be something unique to my system.

There are a few things that could be improved in Version 7 - mainly related to file management and screen real estate, but both storage and monitors are cheap these days, and I can understand why the author made some of the choices that he did.

- File Management: The game doesn't tell you it is doing this, but when you open the program, it initially copies its 200 puzzles from it's install subfolders to:

WinXP and below: C:\Documents and Settings\{current user}\Application Data\Jigsaws Galore\Jigsaws\ and subfolders. WinVista and above (presumed): C:\Users\{current user}\AppData\Roaming\Jigsaws Galore\Jigsaws\

(not sure if it uses \Roaming\ or not. The easiest way to figure it out is to create a new jigsaw and then look for the new *.jsm file in the C:\Drive)

What this means is you have 200 Jigsaws in BOTH the folders above and your install location folders. You can delete them from the folders above (and from the game), but the game will complain on startup if you delete them from the installation sub-directories.

- You can import old puzzles into the program, but you have to REALLY know what you are doing. Some excerpts from the help screen:

"An import feature is provided to import Jigsaws Galore jigsaws from another game. ... If you have an older version 1-6 game, check the box marked Search an older game. ... This option will be disabled if no older game is found in the usual location. ... If you have a game in an unusual location, or you have jigsaws you have created in a separate folder, check the box marked Search the following folder and navigate to the folder manually."

I couldn't find an import feature anywhere - I assumed it was b/c I didn't have the previous version in the standard location, although help doesn't tell me what the standard location is. I'm not sure that is what help meant, but it implies I am supposed to click "Search" on a screen that is never displayed to import my games.

What I ended up doing is just dropping my .jsm files (and if desired, .jss files) to the folders above and then when I re-started the game, they were visible.

- Another glitch on File Management: When you solve a puzzle, the selection screen shows the puzzle as solved and uses a .jss file to do this. It takes as much storage for a completed puzzle as a half-finished one, but I doubt anyone will want to continue a completed puzzle. The program could create a smaller file with the time to solve info, but I guess someone might want to re-open it to see how the pieces fit together, so I gave the author a pass on this.

- While the GUI is much improved, it wastes a lot of screen real estate (I understand much of this was done to make it easier for people who are new to the game) (I posted a screenshot explaining this also):

The Resume/Create/Choose button eats up about 400 pixels of width and is always displayed. It is about 150 pixels high, but it can be expanded to 370 pixels high to reveal the folder and thubnail zoom sliders and the arrange folders and thumbnail buttons. The folders are shown on the lower row of the selection screen and will overlap your thumbnails if you have too many of them. The game will NEVER auto-arrange your thumbnails below the Resume/Create/Choose screen, although you can manually place them there. There is no way to scroll past the screen to view more icons. And if your thumbnails are too big to fit, they will overlap until you reduce their size and then you can zoom them back up until the start to overlap again.

What this means is on a 1024x768 screen, you are limited to around 30-40 puzzles in the main screen folder - or if you have more, you have to put them in a sub-folder and size that to the area to the right of the Resume/Create/Choose button. If you do that, you can scroll the thumbnails in the default folder and the game remembers folder positions on a re-start.

Not a big deal, but you can't create folder trees - for example if you like scenery, you can make a folder named "Scenery - London", but not a London folder under the Scenery folder.

Just FYI - but it took me a while to realize how to get back to the selection screen from the puzzle screen. There is a back button on the tool bar, but I usually hide the tool bar. There is no file close button, but it turns out that File-Open does the same thing.

It would be nice if Mystery Mode just opened a puzzle at random. It would also be nice if there were a random option that would suggest a puzzle to you when requested.

Minor complaint, but it really annoyed me and it took me a while to figure out how to fix it: In version 5.07 - each piece would audibly "click" when correctly positioned next to an adjacent piece. In version 7.14 - half the time the pieces "click" and half the time the pieces "thunk". But there is only one sound (the click) in the sound preview and selection screen. (Actually - if you click preview several times, you eventually hear the "thunk" sound also.)

It wasn't that hard to fix - I just opened Audacity with Jigsaws Galore open also and the sound settings menu selected. I turned on Record in Audacity and clicked the preview sound in Jigsaws Galore. Stopped recording in Audacity. Used the amplitude function to reduce it by 13 dB b/c the auto-level made it really loud, and saved that as click.wav in the Jigsaws folder and told Jigsaws Galore to use that instead. Problem solved.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoy real jigsaw puzzles, you will love this game.