the artistry and psychology of gaming


Hanano Puzzle

Hanano Puzzle

Welcome to Gaming on the House; don’t look down and and mind your step! Each week, we’ll be climbing the rooftops of the gaming industry to seek out great experiences that everyone can track down and play, and the best part is they’ll all be free! That’s right; FREE! Gratis. Comp’d. Unbound. Unrestricted. Zero-down. On the House!… we talk about free games here, is my point.

Many may be surprised at how many fantastic games are really out there that everyone can legally enjoy with no monetary commitment. Taking together all the flash and browser games, freeware downloads from the independent scene, speed programming archives, free-to-play business modules, and even promotional re-releases from big name publishers, there’s a never ending supply of great games new and old waiting to be played, and it’s our goal to play them all! So, if you’re strapped for cash or just waiting around for that next big release to hit retail, why not give these games a try? After all, they’re free; what have you got to lose!

This week, we grow flowers for the month of May in the most difficult way possible.

Hanano Puzzle

Hanano Puzzle 1

Assume this takes place somewhere between limbo and Beezlebub's Garden

Genre: Block-Pushing Logic Puzzler
Link to Game:
Game Info: Developed by Tatsunami and released online (with both Japanese and English translations) in September 2011

Before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to say just one thing to Tatsunami, creator of Hanano Puzzle. F*** you. You’re the devil in disguise. Sure, you may have created an incredibly colorful and seemingly harmless game with a bunch of flowers in it, but beneath this game’s cheerful exterior lies a game of pure evil. EVIL!


With that out of the way, I’m excited to tell you just how much I love this game, and how much of a joy it is to solve each and every room… eventually, that is.  Hanano Puzzle is a block-pushing game, where you push boxes around the screen in a set order to complete the level. This type of gameplay is similar to transport puzzle games like Sokoban, however Hanano abandons the typical top-down perspective found in similarly-styled games to keep the screen facing forward, bringing gravity into the block-pushing equation. This allows for Hanano Puzzle to offer a fresh take on a decades-old genre while remaining very true to its roots. We may joke about block-pushing games from time to time here at Gaming Symmetry, but in all seriousness, we love the genre, and this was a great new way to look at it.

The goal of Hanano Puzzle is simple; bloom flowers out of each of the colored boxes. Once a box touches a flower, it will bloom a new flower itself. It is up to the player to guide each of the colored boxes to available flowers without getting stuck along the way. It’s harder than you’d think, something that can be made clear even as early as level one. The developer chose to skirt around easy introductory levels to focus solely on challenges that will leave you scratching your head for a period of time, and ultimately ecstatic and triumphant once you figure them out.

The success of the game, much like the success of Sokoban, is that it’s complexities are grounded by a strict set of rules. Boxes can only be moved left or right. You can move only one box at a time. Boxes wider than one square can not be swapped. A flower can only bloom if the space can afford it. Still, there is a learning curve exhibited through the levels to get you acclimatized to the ins and outs of the mechanics, and the way the game chooses to teach you is honestly masterful in its creation. There are certain levels designed to teach you how to play using text, however certain rules are established with no text at all, relying on the player to complete these actions themselves. The first example of these comes in learning that newly bloomed flowers can bloom flowers of their own, to which the player is left with no alternative but to attempt it, learning the concept first-hand instead of being told to do so. Not since Super Meat Boy has learning how to play been so artistically created with player discovery in mind.

Unfortunately, it’s this type of learning that also leads to the game’s greatest drawback, which is the linear level progression. You can’t skip levels, no matter how painfully stuck you can get. While I understand this is in place to offer the greatest amount of preparedness to allow players the knowledge to tackle later levels, it is of little comfort when you realize you’ve been staring at the same yellow block for 40 minutes trying to figure out how you can get it just one level higher.

Hanano Puzzle 2
This isn’t just hard; it’s NP-Hard

Fortunately, the difficulty curve within the game is more like a difficulty wave. Instead of gradually increasing in difficulty with every level, every so often the game simply throws you a “wall” level (I’d consider level 10 the first one of these) that contains a unique “linchpin” solution, but once you get through it (and once you finish your celebratory victory dance, of course), the game rewards you with a few lesser puzzles letting you ride along with a brief ego boost before slamming you to a halt with another one. I can virtually guarantee that everyone will spend some time on level 20 before moving on, so if you’re coming down with a case of “Brain Drain,” just know that completing it doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately be treated to something even harder.

Each puzzle contains a unique solution that is not immediately apparent, and the ultimate payoff for completing these levels is on par with winning an olympic gold medal in video games. With 50 mind numbing levels, Hanano Puzzle has plenty to keep you scratching your head for answers, and the retro styled graphics and nostalgically dissonant PxTone music call back to a time when pushing blocks around for entertainment was a technological marvel. Sokoban may have just met its match. Now all we need to do is develop super computers to study the game based on complex computational theory to have robots grow these damn flowers for us.

Euler Diagram - Hanano Puzzle Problem
If you understand this diagram, please help me with level 35

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  1. [arcade |X| style] | [Download] Hanano Puzzle (Doujin / Full Ver.) - [...] Thank you, Gaming Symmetry, for letting me know about this one! [...]

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