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‘Circuit Dude’ is Disarmingly Difficult

‘Circuit Dude’, newly on Nintendo Switch, is a puzzle game that’s not too hard, not too simple, and perfect to play in short bursts.



Circuit Dude Indie Snippet

Some puzzle games lay all their cards on the table right away. Others take time to tease out their concepts, presenting players with seemingly unsolvable problems that must be returned to once the rest of the game is mastered. Circuit Dude is a puzzle game that strikes a balance between being very straightforward and demonically hard. Don’t be fooled–behind the unassuming mascot and cute music are a progressively difficult series of puzzles that are nearly impossible to put down.

One-Track Mind

Released this week on Nintendo Switch after earlier versions found success on Steam, macOS, and the open-source development tool Arduboy, Circuit Dude packs big things into a tiny package. It’s the sort of puzzle game that players might start off thinking, “This isn’t so hard,” but within the span of a few levels reveals itself to be much, much more. With over 100 levels, Circuit Dude is the very definition of something going from zero to sixty.

The goal is to move the titular Dude from one part of a board to an endpoint after walking over tiles that must be filled in with circuits. The trick is that once a circuit tile has been filled in, it cannot be walked over again. That means that every puzzle has a sense of finality to it. These mazes tend to be a one-way street, and each level compounds the difficulty with additional elements like conveyor belts and trap doors. It often feels like puzzles funnel the player in one direction, making it easy to get trapped. But much like electrical engineering itself, the solutions are often easier than they seem.

Circuit Dude

A Left-Brainer’s Dream

Circuit Dude‘s puzzles are the perfect blend of simple to grasp yet compellingly difficult to execute. Instead of restricting players with arbitrary time limits, players are evaluated by how many steps they’ve taken. Once the solution is found, there’s a natural pull to want to go back and figure out ways to do things more efficiently. Any feelings of frustration dissolve once the player finds the perfect route through a stage.

Puzzles are short and sweet. Because the timer is taken away, players can strategically trace routes with their finger until they’re ready to move. Though it’s possible to get trapped–and you will get trapped–it isn’t the end of the world. Restarting a challenge is quick and easy, and the goal of solving puzzles efficiently without dying stays as tantalizing as ever. Time truly just melts away when you get into the flow of Circuit Dudes core loop.

Circuit Dude

There is an endless flood of indie games already on and coming to the Nintendo Switch, but for players who want a low-key puzzle game that’s easy to play in short bursts, they can’t do much better than Circuit Dude. Created by just one person and now on the most popular console around, it’s proof that dedication and persistence are just as valuable as any programming tools. It’s smart and satisfying, and the in-game level editor keeps the spirit of open source alive. As puzzle heads move through this game and build their own circuit board brain-busters, it’s exciting to think of what something like this will inspire.

Cameron Daxon is a video game evangelist and enthusiastic reader. He lives in Los Angeles, California and once nearly collided with Shigeru Miyamoto during E3. His favorite game is Bloodborne, but only when he’s not revisiting Super Mario World. He’s also in the writer’s room for YouTube personality The Completionist and other places on the internet.