Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator (DSiWare) Review

Review for Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

While Nintendo's online support for their games, and those of many third party Wii and DS games in general, is questionable at best, few can deny that the downloadable services of Virtual Console, WiiWare and DSiWare have provided their fair share of quality gaming. Rather than giving the services top franchise names like Mario and Zelda, as many expected them to originally, Nintendo have instead dotted the services with unknown, but still top quality, experiences like the Art Style series. Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator on DSiWare from developer Mindware is one such example; does it blaze a path of glory, or become a smouldering wreck?

Trailblaze is light on plot, and more insistent on getting the player right into the thick of the action, as a high number of effective handheld games do. Planet residue and other such obstructions are littering the cosmos, and it is your job, as controller of a small ship, to reduce this rubbish to cinders by way of a small tail of fire behind your craft; hence the name Trailblaze.

Control in Puzzle Incinerator is easily one of the game's most unique points. The DS is held sideways in book form, and the main method of control is placed squarely on the D-pad, be it with the thumb of the hand holding the DS, or the other hand if you're a lefty. Special weapons and items are activated with lettered-button presses and/or touch-screen taps; how is entirely up to you, but for the most part, this game is a one-handed, one-thumbed affair, and with such a scheme, the accessibility is almost unrivalled on DS. Good thing too, as Trailblaze pulls no punches elsewhere.

Taking control of a small flame-tailed pod, you have to guide it on a square-by-square radius towards the top of the touch-screen, burning blocks as you go with the ignited tip of your ship's tail, taking care not to go too far ahead as to leave unburnt blocks behind. Doing this is one of many ways to end your game, as any blocks that hit the bottom of the screen mean an instant death, as is getting caught between blocks and your own fire tail. Trailblaze is simple in concept, but oh-so fiendish in catching you out in an instant; the game isn't unfair in the slightest, as in the main mode there is no time limitation, so you can move on a one square by one square basis if you do so choose. It isn't an exaggeration to say that newbies will want to spend a fair amount of time in the highly effective Tutorial and Practice options.

Screenshot for Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Helping you in taking care of all this space debris are five obtainable items, as well as environmental clutter like bombs and small burner pellets, that make nearby blocks burn easier. These power-ups are collected by way of letter blocks in the field; fill up all the letters of an item's name on the top screen, and you'll gain access to it, the effect and activation method dependent on the item in question. Radar provides a small map on the top screen to help see what is coming, Missile fires debris-destroying blasts right ahead of you. Push lets you budge blocks to where you want them, one at a time. Ignite singes all on-screen blocks to make them burn quicker, and ZapAll just completely obliterates them. You're never forced into a path where you have to get a certain item, so you can go through the stage with a Radar map if you do so choose, and in general, all five are highly useful in your mission.

Trailblaze employs a space-inspired visual and audio style that benefits what is on the surface a simplistic title, and it works wonders for the game's book-style setup. It won’t wow or amaze you with flashiness or cutting-edge production values, but the unique feel and addictive one-more-play factor that many smaller games have in abundance is here alive and well.

Puzzle Incinerator's main modes of play are thin on the ground, with no hint of a multiplayer feature in sight, but Tour Mode's Solar System exploration and the features of the Time Trial mode are certainly no weekend endeavour. As such, for 500 of your Nintendo points, you get a game that exemplifies exactly what DSiWare is all about: low fees and top notch entertainment in minature form.

Screenshot for Trailblaze: Puzzle Incinerator on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Wonderfully simple and easy to pick up and play. A slight learning curve may intimidate at first, but effective Tutorial options help alleviate that and even harsher difficulty onwards.


A rather simple rendering of the cosmos, but one that matches well to the block-by-block gameplay.


Authentic bit-themes that chug along effortlessly in the background, yet provide an effective companion to the overall space theme of the game.


Purely a one player affair, Trailblaze's considerable longevity shows after the concept clicks, with an extensive Space Tour campaign and an addictive Time Trial feature. Multiplayer and online support would have been icing on the cake, but they aren't too badly missed.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Trailblaze provides quality puzzling with a unique angle and premise for a low cost. Online leaderboards and multiplayer support are sad omissions, but for a quick piece of enjoyable gaming on DSiWare, Puzzle Incinerator is near the top of the list.

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It's great to see Nintendo not only providing a great service for smaller developers to release their ideas, but also suppporting them by actually publishing certain games! Might have to check this out when I next have some points...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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