Miku puzzling is back with Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori

The world’s most beloved Vocaloid Hatsune Miku has had some bloody strange games to her name over the years. While her myriad music games are both excellent and true to her overall “intention” as a virtual musician, she’s also found herself attached to a variety of other types of game — with the most recent examples including the excellent nonogram puzzler Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S and the subject we’re taking a look at now: the rather clumsily named Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori.

In reality, the Miku connection here is exceedingly tenuous, since what we have in Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori is a simple but enjoyable puzzle game that very obviously started out as a mobile title, with unlockable Vocaloid artwork as a reward for progression and a cheerful, varied (albeit brief) soundtrack of Miku songs.

Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori

This doesn’t make it bad, of course; just bear in mind that if you’re coming into this for a ton of Miku fanservice, you’re not going to find a lot aside from the music; even the unlockable art consists primarily of promotional shots that you’ve almost certainly seen many times before.

Anyway, to the game itself. As the name suggests, Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori involves both birds and eggs — primarily the latter. Across 8 stages with 25 levels each, it’s your job to match pairs of eggs in order to eliminate them from a grid. It’s not just a case of spotting eggs with the same colour and/or symbol, though; in order to create a successful match, there must be a connecting line between the two eggs that features no more than two “turns”, and which is not blocked by any other eggs.

In some ways, Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori (yes, I’m calling it by its full name every time to highlight what a ridiculous title it is) can be looked on as a variation on mahjong solitaire, which makes use of a similar “matching symbols with specific restrictions” system, though here you won’t find eggs stacked on top of each other; simply grid-based arrangements.

Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori

The initial levels in Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori are extremely simple, with a wide variety of matches possible for you to create right from the outset, but as you progress through the levels the grid becomes more and more crowded and there are more and more possible egg patterns to match. After a certain point, it becomes clear that you’ll have to follow through the matches in quite a specific order in order to complete the stage — though unlike mahjong solitaire, the nature of the board arrangement means that you’re unlikely to get yourself into a position where there are no possible moves to make.

Each level has three “missions” to complete, represented by stars: simply completing the stage, completing the stage without using the limited “hint” feature, and completing the stage without attempting to make any illegal moves. Unlike Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S, which allowed you to spend stars to unlock new music tracks, there does not appear to be any such option here.

Instead, the main “unlockable” in Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori comes through the “Bird Square” feature, in which you can place down berries acquired through randomly placed treasure chests in the puzzle levels, and hope that you “meet” new types of bird. The birds you have “met” are added to your gallery, and theoretically the overall metagame is for you to collect all the birds.

Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori

Only one problem with that: Bird Square is boring and utterly pointless — as well as being the part of Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori where its mobile game origins are most apparent. Birds don’t show up immediately when you put down a berry, you see — even if you place one of the rarer gold or rainbow berries that increase the likelihood of you meeting a new bird. Instead, you’re just supposed to check in on it every so often to see if anything has happened, and if a bird happens to have shown up in your absence, you can add it to your “favourites” to effectively glue it to the branch and keep it hanging around.

But there’s absolutely no reason to do this. You can’t interact with the birds, and they don’t have a ton of personality about them in the first place to make them in any way “desirable” to either collect or spend time with. The whole feature is a hangover of a flagrantly transparent attempt at “user retention” — you know, the sort of annoying shit that means mobile games act like a clingy partner and send you notifications when you haven’t paid them any attention for a couple of hours — and doesn’t really have a place in the Switch version.

I mean, it doesn’t exactly detract from the experience since it can be safely ignored — the main attraction here is very much the vast number of puzzles to complete — but I would rather have seen something more along the lines of Logic Paint S’ unlockable music tracks than this, particularly as Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori features a very limited selection of songs.

Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori

None of this is to say that Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori is a bad game, of course; it’s just that some of it feels a little too cynical for my liking. Probably the most egregious issue is that there simply isn’t enough Miku; the core gameplay is solid enough, but the poor girl doesn’t even appear on the main game screen in this — at least there was a selection of chibi Vocaloid avatars to accompany your numerical pondering in Hatsune Miku Logic Paint S!

It’s a fun puzzler worth spending some time with, then — but as a Miku game, it is left considerably wanting. And that’s a bit of a shame; past Miku games have felt as much like a celebration of Miku and the culture surrounding her as anything, but here it just feels like she’s been slapped on a game that had its origins elsewhere at the last moment. And at this point, she deserves better.

Hatsune Miku Connecting Puzzle Tamagotori is available now on Nintendo Switch, though the Web store listing isn’t live at the time of writing..

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Pete Davison
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