I am a pretty big and unabashed Popcap Games fan. Not all of their stuff, mind you, but I’ve spent more money and wasted more time on their games than I’m willing to admit. I’m playing Chuzzle again lately, since it’s been released for iPhone (and with all honestly, when I got my iPhone it was the first game I searched for on the app store). One thing I’ve always loved about Chuzzle was Zen mode.
Zen mode allows you to simply play the game, forever, without any chance of losing. You accrue points. You can achieve trophies. But with no risk of failure. Conventional game design wisdom would argue that a game without an end condition like that wouldn’t be of any lasting value, but I’m quite sure I’ve spent more time playing Zen Chuzzle than I have any other mode. Part of this is the sheer joy of playing the game. It looks and sounds great, and it is simply entertaining just to pop chuzzles.
I think what we can take away from this is that with enough polish, you can shrug off a lot of the conventional weight of game design.