505 Tangram

Review: 505 Tangram

DSiWare Review

"With 101 different puzzles in each category, there's plenty of content to get through, though the motivation to do so will be contingent on just how hooked you get."

Not too many weeks ago, Satoru Iwata stood on a stage in San Francisco and openly admitted that the DSiWare and WiiWare ventures had not unfolded as well as they could and should have. What Iwata was referring to was the failing to structure the services to provide an adequate relationship between the consumer and the supplier. But playing 505 Tangram, one can't help but feel there is also a different issue to be touched upon; one that very much relates to Iwata's more headline-grabbing points in his speech. That is, the encroachment of ultra-light, 'App'-like software, and whether a Nintendo platform is at all suited to accommodate this recent spread of inexpensiveness.

But let's give every title a fair shake of the stick. After all, even the most minimalistic experiences can be just as worthy of our time as any AAA title – just look at Tetris. 505 Tangram gives you the chance to complete a vast number of Tangram puzzles on the go. If you happen to be unfamiliar with it, the 'Tangram' is a form of puzzle that involves manipulating seven tiles to form larger shapes. The same seven tiles are used in every puzzle: two large; one medium; and two small right-angle triangles, a square and a parallelogram. There are five different categories of shapes you have to complete: People, Objects, Animals, Shapes and Typo. With 101 different puzzles in each category, there's plenty of content to get through, though the motivation to do so will be contingent on just how hooked you get.

But that motivation, or likely lack of it, is really the key issue. Everything that needs to be said about the gameplay has already been said. In fairness to the developer, the classic Tangram puzzle only ever utilises these seven shapes, so it was never really going to take long to master. It speaks volumes that it took us longer to get fully used to the rather basic and intuitive touch controls than it did to suss out how every single puzzle would be solved. Once that point has been reached, there is arguably very little motivation for the vast majority of people to see though all 505 puzzles, even with the humble selection of in-game 'achievements' awarded for stages of completion.

In the review of the developer's last DSiWare game, 3D Mahjong, we mentioned it couldn't hold a candle to Nintendo's 42 All Time Classics, either in terms of quality or content. For their previous DSiWare offering, 24/7 Solitaire, comparisons couldn't help but be made with Level-5's superior puzzle-fest Professor Layton. By now, a real worry should be washing over us as consumers, and it might just be endemic in this 'App' culture that has now spread to the DSiWare platform. We need to ask ourselves whether this flood of ultra-light software like 505 Tangram and its predecessors are really sustainable when there are premium alternatives whose quality will completely drown out the rest, both critically and commercially.

Still, at 500 Points, one might also be inclined to say such software isn't doing any harm just being there. There may well be a small demographic who get hooked to 505 Tangram and plunge hours into the necessarily repetitive puzzles. But for the market as a whole, how healthy is it to push waves of sub-£5 software alongside much more premium games on the same platform? In the end, it's for the consumer to decide.

N-Europe Final Verdict

For Tangram nuts, you were already sold. For the other 99% of us, 505 Tangram is indicative of a much wider problem with low-value software dominating Nintendo's downloadable platforms.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Pretty accessible
Plenty of puzzles


Quickly repetitive
Bland presentation
Inherently lowvalue

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