There’s a temptation to CTRL+C our Alice in Wonderland – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale review and plonk it right down here. Obviously we would do the hard work of find-and-replacing any references to Alice in Wonderland. We’re not monsters.
My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale is very much a repeat of that other game, with the exception of six completely new pieces of artwork and a lilting new soundtrack. Everything else is carried wholesale from the Alice in Wonderland iteration, so if you played that first game, then you will have a pixel-perfect understanding of what you’re getting here.
For everyone else, this is six pictures by artist Katia Numakura, attempting to tell the story of – this time round – The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Those six pictures can be played at various difficulties, which translates to the number of pieces in the jigsaw. You can have a go at 60, 135, 240, 375 and 735 pieces, with achievements at various milestones for each.
As with the rest of Mens Sana Interactive’s output, the presentation is lovely. It’s like falling into a bowl of marshmallows. Katia Numakura’s artwork, as long as you have a taste for more picturebook, chibi and anime-influenced art, is as delightful as it was in Alice in Wonderland. It’s also perfect for jigsaw puzzling, as very few pieces, even at the hardest difficulties, have uniform colours on them.
The soundtrack is soothing and new, when it could easily have been ported from the first game. But this is an exclusive, original soundtrack, and it does a good job of giving you a piece-placing rhythm.
Six pictures, chopped into the five different piece-sizes, is just as limited as it was in Alice in Wonderland – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale. While the artwork is lovely, and the price of £3.29 isn’t going to shatter any piggy banks, it still feels like a paper-thin package. We tend to find a size of jigsaw that fits what we want – 240 is about the limit of what we find enjoyable in My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale – and then play each picture on offer. We feel less compelled to play them repeatedly at different sizes, so the six pictures get exhausted reasonably fast. Play on 60 pieces, and you can be done with My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale in twenty minutes,
Playing jigsaws with a controller in your hand has always been an awkward experience that lacks anything like tactility. My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale does its absolute best to give you as many tools as possible to make the process easier. You can highlight just the edge pieces, which is something my partner would pay hard cash for with real-life, physical jigsaws. You can also highlight the pieces by quadrant, so if you want to focus on a particular quarter of the picture, then you can. All of these are at the touch of a button, so if you consider it cheating (you hardcore puzzler you), then you can leave it well alone.
The zoom function lets you go as far in or out of the image as you want, while you can drag the picture around to get to the area you’re working on. You can tap a button to see the full image, superimposed onto yours, which is helpful to orient yourself, while the real winners are the snapping features, which will automatically and naturally connect your piece to the board, or to other pieces, even if they’re out of position. The coding behind this is perfect: you rarely feel like you are fumbling to get a piece into exactly the right spot.
But here’s the tension: while My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale has all the tools you could possibly want, it’s still not enough to make completing a jigsaw feel satisfying. That was always going to be a challenge: for one of the simplest games that you can possibly buy, a jigsaw is also one of the most reliant on tactility and precision. There are a lot of pieces fitting into a lot of spaces, and zeroing in on one to place it in a larger picture is something that gaming has rarely – if ever – got right.
So it proves here. Particularly on the harder difficulties, with a large number of pieces, it becomes an exercise in frustration. Pieces layer on top of each other on the sides of the board, which makes sense – there’s 735 of them to fit on the screen. But, even when fully zoomed in, the cursor can’t handle it. It picks up pieces you don’t want, and the centre of the cursor is hard to discern. Is it the tip of the cursor’s finger, or is it the palm? The answer is both, on occasion.
My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale could have helped itself out. Dragging a piece to the edges of the game screen really should have auto-tracked the camera. But no: you have to manually put the piece down and forcibly move the camera, as it’s near-impossible to do both at once. Small quality-of-life features like this would be appreciated if more of these puzzles are planned, Mens Sana Interactive.
On the bigger sizes, the image blurs more, as the quality of the image’s compression means that it can’t handle being chopped into 735 pieces. That makes for a less satisfying puzzle, as you are matching blur with blur. In the end, we found our natural home at the lower difficulties and stayed there.
My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale gets a few things right. Its pictures by Katia Numakura are something to cherish – even more so if you have a love for The Little Prince. It’s well priced at £3.29, and it’s perfectly possible to have a good time if you limit yourself to the smaller puzzles.
But, like its predecessor, My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale struggles and sputters as soon as the puzzles get beyond two-hundred-plus pieces. While the tools on offer are great, completing a large puzzle remains a fiddly experience to sort, choose and place jigsaw pieces. One day gaming will get big jigsaws right, but today is not that day.
You can buy My Little Prince – A Jigsaw Puzzle Tale from the Xbox Store
- Fab artwork
- A new, soothing soundtrack
- Completing smaller puzzles feels pretty good
- But larger puzzles are unwieldy
- Only six pictures to complete
- Needs some usability improvements
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - QUByte Interactive
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
- Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date - 16 March 2023
- Launch price from - £3.29