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
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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