More like an ad generator than a game.
One of the activities I love doing with my grandmother is working on jigsaw puzzles. She always has one out on her card table that she’s been working on and I will usually put a piece or two in place to keep the game going. Puzzles are relaxing to me and they keep my mind focused. It’s sort of an autopilot activities — one where your brain is relaxed enough to come up with ideas that you normally wouldn’t. I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles and even loved playing the digital version that was on Mac OS 7. At that time, you had one picture and could only select the number of pieces, which corresponded to the difficulty level. I’ve searched and searched for an iOS jigsaw puzzle app that I could keep with me, but haven’t found one that was a good fit for me. That’s when I decided to try out Jigsaw Puzzles for Me (JPFM) by Apalon Apps.
Apalon Apps has a lot of really nicely developed apps out there including Notepad+ and Speak & Translate. So, I was excited to try out Jigsaw Puzzles for Me. Based on iTunes user ratings, the app is given a 4.6/5 star rating with over 3,300 reviews submitted. It was most recently updated on January 8, 2018, with some performance and stability improvements. It’s original release to the iTunes App Store was on December 20, 2017. The download requires 117.5 MB of space on your iOS devices and requires iOS 9.0 or later. It is a free app to download but has several options for premium, in-app content downloads including:
- 1 Month of Premium Content $9.99
- 1 Month of Premium Content $6.99
- 1 Year of Premium Content $69.99
- 6 Month of Premium Content $39.99
- 6 Month of Premium Content $29.99
- 1 Year of Premium Content $49.99
This is how the premium packages are listed on the iTunes App description page, but not how it’s shown in the app. When you choose the ‘Go Premium’ option, you are given the choice of 6 months for $6.67/month ($40.02 for 6 months) or a year for $5.84/month ($70.08 for a year). There is also a 3-day Free Trial option. Since I didn’t want to lock myself into a subscription, I didn’t select that to see what would happen, but according to the screenshot, when you Go Premium you unlock all puzzles, all difficulty levels, and remove the ads. I can tell you for the little time I played JPFM, I strongly considered taking one of these options just to escape the ad-maze.
When you first start up the game you come to a screen that has a menu of puzzle categories including seasonal, art, and around the world. You can filter the search results by selecting ‘popular’ or ‘new’ from the home screen, too. At the bottom of the screen you will see the obligatory ad banner and just below that, you will find your ‘library’ button and ‘my puzzles’. At the top of the screen is a scrolling set of images that take you through three options — unlock all puzzles, free puzzle of the day, and currently, enjoy Christmas time. “Free puzzle of the Day” is probably the best option you can choose from the home screen. Every other option will take you to an ad. In fact, the longer you linger on your home screen (and some other screens for that matter) the greater the chance that a full-screen add will pop-up. And I’m not just talking about a static image that you can immediately click off of — this app is weighed down with ad videos that you are locked into for 30 second (or more) before you can close out of it.
As for the actual gameplay, I would say it’s average. I completed two puzzles (one that was a free daily puzzle and one that wasn’t) and when I tried to load the third puzzle, I was stuck in a Mobius loop of video ads. When you load a puzzle, it’s presented with the option to solve a 24 or 36 piece puzzle. Once you select your piece count the puzzle is shown as individual pieces on a scrolling board at the bottom of your screen. You simply drag and drop pieces into place and when you make a match, the app automatically locks them together. Honestly, when you can play the game it’s quite satisfying as a puzzle game. I would probably spend a lot of time playing this game if it weren’t for all the ads.
I realized that the majority of this review has focused on the advertisements and not the gameplay. But to be honest, when you download the free version, this is very much like the app experience you will get. At every turn, the app is trying to coax you into spending money or wasting your time watching an ad. The content is good. The quality of the puzzles is good. I would LOVE to see Apalon Apps redesign this app so that it is a true puzzle game and not an ad generator. They could sell it for $1.99 or $2.99 as a one-time charge and make money with it. I would even be fine with it being a freemium app if the ads were cut down by 40%.
Since it’s still a new app, I’m hopeful that Apalon Apps will take time to reconsider the app’s purpose/design so that it’s more enjoyable for users.
DOWNLOAD – Jigsaw Puzzles for Me – FREE