Mixing the gem explosions of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo with the stacking mechanic of Wario’s Woods, Treasure Stack is an intriguing puzzle game. Although there are some addicting qualities, the few elements that miss the mark hold back the experience from being the next big puzzler.
Like controlling Toad in Wario’s Woods, the player takes control of a little human inside the puzzle well. This character can pick up stacks of puzzle pieces and place them at will, in addition to jumping to reach higher platforms. Instead of busting pieces with the bomb of Wario Woods or the gems of Puzzle Fighter, players stack treasure chests and open them with key pieces. Placing chests of the same color will pop when combined with a key piece, acting similar to grouping blobs together in any Puyo game. Gameplay doesn’t take long to understand and can create some hectic moments.
Check out my stream of Treasure Stack below to learn about the gameplay.
There are two main issues with the gameplay of Treasure Stack. First, the player is limited to picking up an entire stack of chests. In comparison, Wario Woods gave the player much more freedom in terms of piece maneuvering. Besides picking up the entire stack, the player could only pick up the bottom piece or even kick a piece out of the way. Here, limiting the player to the entire stack makes gameplay more challenging as sometimes the player cannot move an entire stack as it already reached the top of the well. It feels like the player is always at an unfair advantage due to the lack of control options.
The second issue is the harpooning feature. In most puzzle games, like Tetris for example, the player presses down to speed the falling rate. Here is Treasure Stack, the player can shoot a harpoon gun northward to harness a falling piece and rip it down in an instant. The game puts a big emphasis on this feature as unlockable harpoons is an entire category of unlockables. Unfortunately, the player can only take advantage of this feature during the opening moments. After a couple rows of pieces have stacked, there simply isn’t enough space to use the harpoon gun, nor is there enough time. The idea of pulling pieces down is creative but isn’t balanced well here and could have been eliminated almost entirely. Luckily, there are power-ups that randomly fall to spice up gameplay just enough and can save the player in a tight situation. Swords, for example slice out an entire row of pieces. The anvil crushes an entire column. The bomb blows up neighboring pieces. The rainbow key instantly unlocks numerous chests. Power-ups are rare so they feel like something special, something to go out of your way for, when they appear.
That isn’t to say Treasure Stack is all bad because it is not. With numerous character and harpoon skins to unlock, the game wants the player to keep playing. However, the lack of an online community is holding back the entire experience to single player only. After numerous attempts, both before and after official release, I was unable to find a single player playing online. Hopefully this will change over time as playing against another humans should yield the most amount of entertainment.
You know when you are playing any Zelda game and you come across a chest and you think “oooh, will there be a piece of heart inside, or a new item, or a map?” then you open it and there is only a blue rupee inside? That is kind of what Treasure Stack is. It has the beginnings of a solid puzzle game but ended up being a watered down version of Wario Woods. There is still some fun to be had but just do not expect the addicting staying power of Tetris or Puzzle Fighter.