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Jigsaw Planet Jigsaw Puzzles

Great, no-frills jigsaw puzzle fun

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Juanita Flores

Jigsaw Planet Home Page

Jigsaw Planet Home Page

Jigsaw Planet has thousands of free jigsaw puzzles created by users. It's not necessary to open an account to play these free games, but there are advantages if you register, such as being able to save partially solved games to finish at a later date or the ability to sort puzzles into different albums which will help you organize your favorites.

You won't be asked to download any special programs or plug-ins to play the puzzles at Jigsaw Planet. All you need is a Java-enabled browser (most are) and some free time.

Navigating the site

When you arrive at Jigsaw Planet, you will see an "Explore' and a 'Create' button, and three or four rows of thumbnail images each of which links to a puzzle to solve. The number in the thumbnail denotes the number of pieces in the puzzle. If you click on the 'Explore' button you get a drop-down menu with options to view the latest or the most popular or the jigsaw puzzles currently being played. If you want to see puzzles on a particular subject (sunsets, for example), select 'Popular Tags', the last selection on the menu.

It would be helpful if one could also filter puzzles by piece count, or a range thereof. Many users create multiple puzzles from the same image for different age groups (fewer pieces for kids). If you're looking for easy jigsaw puzzles, you may not want to wade through scores of larger puzzles (more than 50 pieces) which make up the majority of the jigsaw puzzles offered here.

If the creator of the puzzle is a registered user at Jigsaw Planet, then you can filter the jigsaw puzzles by username. Just type in jigsawplanet.com/XXXX (where XXXX is the person's username) to show all the public puzzles created by that user.

Alternatively, some of the images have a "People" icon which appears just beneath the thumbnail. There is an example of this in the lower right-hand corner of the image above. Clicking on this icon will bring up a selection of that user's public puzzles.

How the game plays

Piecing together a Jigsaw Planet jigsaw puzzle.

Piecing together a Jigsaw Planet jigsaw puzzle.

© Dave Fisher
All the jigsaw puzzles have the same dimensions regardless of how many pieces. Therefore, the fewer the number of pieces the larger they are and vice versa.

The puzzle pieces are three-dimensional, easy to see and interlock nicely with an audible cue (a soft click) when they come together. It would be nice to also have a visual cue, especially for the hearing-impaired or if you are listening to music or just happen to have the sound turned off.

You need to be quite precise when positioning the pieces in relation to one another to have them connect, more so than on some other jigsaw puzzle sites. However, matched pieces will interlock no matter where they are on the playing surface. This is opposed to some sites where a piece must be directly over its precise position on the "table" before it will connect (different algorithms, I guess).

The program offers some playing options that are on the task bar below the workspace.

  • The first icon on the left opens a picture of the puzzle you're solving.
  • The ghost icon next to it overlays a full-sized, semi-transparent picture on the workspace upon which you can use to match up the puzzle pieces. This is extremely helpful, especially when doing puzzles with pieces that need to be rotated.
  • The gear icon opens a menu to change background color, re-scatter the puzzle pieces (start over) and the 'Help' window.
  • In the center is a progress indicator (percentage) and a timer for hours and minutes. (Note: Even though the timer doe not display seconds, when you complete a puzzle a pop-up screen will display the time taken in hours, minutes and seconds.)
  • The 'X' on the far right closes the puzzle window and returns you to Jigsaw Planet.

Here's a handy tip

At some point you may find yourself trying to move multiple pieces aside for more work space and it can be tedious moving one piece at a time. There is a way to move pieces as a group. Place your cursor just above and to the left of the pieces you want to move. Then hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse diagonally down and to the right until the cursor is just below the group. You should see a rectangular outline. Release the mouse button and the pieces wholly or partially inside the rectangle are corralled and turn red. Place your cursor over any one of these red pieces then press and hold the left mouse button and drag the pieces to another area of your workspace. If you wish to add or remove a piece form the group, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the piece with the left mouse button.

To maximize your workspace, press F11 on your keyboard to go to full screen. When finished, press F11 to return to normal screen.

Unfortunately, there is no feature to zoom in/out so puzzle pieces can get 'lost' under the partially pieced-together sections of the puzzle or under other pieces. It would be helpful to have a 'rescue' option to bring these pieces to the fore.

Make and share your own jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw Planet How-ToDave Fisher

Create an account at Jigsaw Planet and have fun making your own jigsaw puzzles. It's really easy! To learn how, here's a step-by-step tutorial that shows you How to Make Your Own Jigsaw Planet Puzzles.

All the puzzles at Jigsaw Planet are user-made, and there's no accounting for taste. There doesn't appear to be any humans doing quality control, so much of what you'll find is so-so. Also, the creator of the puzzle controls the piece cut, the number of pieces and rotation. It's frustrating to finally see a puzzle that you'd like to solve only to find that you don't like the piece cut or that there are too many small pieces that need to be rotated.

The bottom line

Definiely worth joining to make and share your custom jigsaw puzzles.

Pros

  • 3D pieces interlock well with a nice, soft click
  • The 'ghost image' feature is very helpful for larger, more complicated puzzles
  • No limit to the number of puzzles you can make
  • Convenient system for organizing your puzzles
  • Puzzles can be shared or kept private
  • Puzzles are not removed after a certain time or because of inactivity
  • It's free
Cons
  • No zoom feature
  • Needs a 'rescue' option when pieces become lost beneath other pieces
  • No visual help screen, just a FAQ that's hard to find
  • Need the ability to search puzzles by piece count
  • Can be tiresome combing through mediocre or repetitive puzzles
Jigsaw Planet is a good choice if you want to create and store puzzles for any length of time. The game plays well and there's no lag time in full screen mode. The competitive and community aspect is lacking, but overall it's an enjoyable jigsaw puzzle game.

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