On the surface, I Heart Geeks is an underdog story about trumping evil jocks and winning the girl through the use of “nerdy” contraptions, but the narrative aspect is never expanded beyond this simple premise. Instead, the puzzle-solving design elements are the focal point, and I Heart Geeks fails to deliver on its promises, making play more burdensome than enjoyable.
After a few tutorial levels, players are tasked with jumping into the puzzle-making foray head-first. Though the tutorials detail basic controls and tool use, much of what players make will involve a healthy dose of trial and error… and plenty of frustration.
One would expect I Heart Geeks to distinguish itself from other puzzle games via the creation of its puzzles. This creation aspect, which allows players to place objects themselves, rather than simply manipulate existing ones, turns out to be more akin to a nearly-finished jigsaw than an open canvas. Eschewing the promised creative freedom, the game falls short, again.
At one point, a fellow protagonist says, “The balloon is bothering me, please pop it.” I can’t help but wonder how that is going to further the group of nerds’ cause, especially when there are jocks to mess with and a girl to impress? Who knows? Reluctantly, I carry on. To pop the balloon, I have to cut it free from the weight it’s strung to, letting it float into a needle. I place a diagonal platform and a mini trampoline in the only spots they can logically go to get a ball to hit the scissors and cut the string. Rather than create a puzzle, I simply finish one that already exists. Further, the mess of a puzzle is without meaning or any measure of fun.
Some puzzles manage to provide that brief, satisfying “Aha!” moment. Using lasers, trampolines, water spouts, steam engines, balloons, scissors, and a general knowledge of physics to accomplish even the most meaningless tasks manages to be enjoyable, just not often enough.
I Heart Geeks doesn’t deliver on what it promises. Its meaningless puzzles and lack of depth make the charming narrative feel unimportant and ignored. Puzzle “creation” feels uninspiring and all too simple. Even for the simple puzzle game that it is, where I Heart Geeks shows promise, it falls very short.
Review based on Nintendo DS release.