Pandora’s Box

Lately I’ve been playing Pandora’s Box, a 1999 puzzle game published by Microsoft that was designed by Alexey Pajitnov, the designer of Tetris. It’s really unfortunate that it seems to have been completely forgotten because it’s a really charming collection of puzzles.

It’s a pretty straightforward collection of puzzles. There’s technically a plot about you having to recapture some tricksters that have escaped from Pandora’s box, which isn’t really how the story originally worked but whatever, it’s just there to give an excuse to do a variety of relaxing puzzles. The Wikipedia page has a good description of all the puzzle types. Not all of them are winners, the weirdly named Image Hole is a tedious slog where you just have to slowly move holes around until you see the place in a painting where they can fit in, but most of them are good and it’s a fun way to pass the time when I want to play a game to relax. I think the ones that I prefer the most are the ones that are closer to your traditional jigsaw puzzle. Overlap, Jesse’s Strips, and Outer Layer are the highlights for me and all involve you putting pieces together to form either a painting or photo, or in the case of Outer Layer, some sort of 3D artwork. Overlap and Jesse’s Strips have fun twists on the jigsaw puzzle by having pieces that overlap with each other.

The game’s very 90s aesthetic and calming soundtrack just make this a really peaceful game for me to play. It’s too bad that Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about any of their old computer games outside of Age of Empires. There’s plenty of games like this, Motocross Madness, and Freelancer that could really use a rerelease but are just kinda stuck as abandonware and forgotten by most people.

That all said, go check it out! It’s not too difficult to get it working on modern versions of Windows and it’s available to download here. I guess I can just link to an abandonware site? I suppose I can since it’s my own site and I can do whatever? Anyway, it’s not available for sale so you’re not hurting anyone by just downloading it.

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