Latter-day jigsaws for virtual assembly

Despite years of relationships and occasional cohabitation with puzzle-addicted significant others, I have only the vaguest impression of why someone would want to assemble a jigsaw puzzle. I think it's something you're born with, like schizophrenia or a club foot -- but it makes me kind of jealous, to tell you the truth.

See also...
... by Thomas S. Roche
... in the Scope section
... from November 3, 1999

Puzzleholics speak of the soothing, peaceful experience of assembling a 40,000-piece jigsaw representation of Margaret Thatcher's head or the Hoover Dam or Louis XIV's palace at Versailles -- hey, more power to 'em. Doesn't make a goddamn bit of different if I think they're complete and total obsessive- compulsive freaks of the Aliens Killed Elvis variety... When baby gets a puzzle yen, everything is copacetic as long as I don't have to use the dinner table or the living room floor for, oh, about three weeks.

Because if you dig jigsaw puzzles, or if you love someone who does, you've no doubt long ago noticed the obvious: It takes a fuck of a lot of room to put one of those goddamn things together. Well, despair no more -- if you haven't got a spare room to lodge your Yosemite Falls, your mom keeps clearing your fragmentary, half-assembled Kremlin in order to set the table for dinner, or your cat steals pieces of Buckingham Palace while you're not looking: now you crazy motherfuckers can do all that anal-retentive assemblage on your computer.

Wrebbit makes several varieties of 3D puzzles, including a Victorian mansion, Bavaria's Neuschwanstein castle, and the cathedral at Notre Dame. The visuals are pretty impressive and the level of complexity is staggering to one such as me -- frankly, I'd rather jam knitting needles into my tear ducts and blow Dick Clark than assemble one of these things. But I'm sure it'd be just the thing for an obsessive puzzle nut. And if you're a beginner (I don't even qualify as "sub-sub-neo-beginner"), you can set the skill level to "novice" and have a bit of an easier time.

For slightly less-obsessive freaks, Abracadata offers a bunch of different train-themed puzzles, from simple slider puzzles to Train Jumpers (variations on the old game of Concentration) to The Hump Yard (keep the snickers to a minimum, please), where you have to switch the tracks at breakneck speed to keep the trains moving down the right tracks.

I can't help but wonder if this whole "genre" of games is designed for people with phallic obsessions... but look, I'm not going to go there, draw what conclusions you will. If you're a game freak and locomotively inclined, this is the place to go. Abracadata's games run $19.99 to $29.99. And no, there isn't a game called Sleeper Car Mambo. Sorry to disappoint.