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Released: 2000

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Eon

Developer: Taito

Submitted by: Phil Abel

Taito have made some absolute gems of arcade puzzle games over the years. Puzzle Bobble takes most of the limelight and rightly so but there are quite a few others worth checking out. Landmaker is one of the more overlooked puzzle titles that Taito put out in the '90s but it deserves so much more attention.
Landmaker is a very simple game. Create groups of four or more like-coloured blocks to form buildings then knock them down to scatter blocks over your opponent's half of the screen. The game ends when a player's blocks get pushed over a line at the bottom of the screen. In the console exclusive puzzle mode, the aim is to construct large buildings in a limited number of moves before anything gets pushed off the board. From the same simple concept you get two very different games. Arcade mode is fast and frantic as an arcade puzzle should be. Puzzle mode is much more laid back and thoughtful.
The different modes also look very different to one another. Arcade mode retains the brightly coloured sprites of original game. It's very busy looking and there is always a lot happening on screen. Puzzle mode takes a more minimalist approach using quite plain 3D graphics which reflect the more relaxed feel of this mode.
Like most arcade puzzles, Landmaker really comes to life when played with a friend. But, if like me, you have no friends, there's still more than enough here to keep you occupied for a long time. I bought this game during a very Taito-focused period in my gaming life. I was thrilled to find a copy and subsequently spent many late nights relaxing with puzzle mode. It's a game which isn't valuable in the slightest but I still treasure it as though it was a sealed copy of Border Down.