Daniel DiManna
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Mobile Game Review: ‘Parking Jam’

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A physical sliding puzzle game similar to 'Parking Jam'
Imagine this, but on your phone and constantly interrupted by ads
Photo: Welt-der-Form via CC

Let’s be honest: we’ve all gotten addicted to a silly mobile game at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a strategy game set in a fantasy world or a simple puzzle game, everyone has that one app that they open out of habit and lose endless hours to. This is the unfortunate tale of how one of those apps — a puzzle game called Parking Jam — nearly cost me my sanity.

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The simple-yet-addicting ‘Parking Jam’

Anyone who has ever downloaded a free-to-play game on their smartphone is painfully aware of the ads you have to suffer through. More often than not, these ads are for other free-to-play games. Most of them simply pass me by as I impatiently wait for the skip icon to appear. However, every once in a while, one of these games catches my eye, and I download it to see if it’s any fun.

Such was my introduction to Parking Jam, a puzzle game from developer Popcore.

The “premise” of Parking Jam isn’t a complicated one. Have you ever played a puzzle game in which you have to slide objects across a grid so other pieces can be slid out, therefore clearing out more of the grid until the entire thing is bereft of objects? Well, that’s Parking Jam in a nutshell, except the objects are cars. Basically, you have to slide each car around a parking lot, gradually guiding them out of openings and back onto the road.

Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. As the levels progress, more obstacles are thrown at you, including traffic cones, garbage cans, and a low-res old lady who slowly walks around as you try not to hit her. But none of these obstacles really pose much of a threat. If you’re careful, each level can be beaten in mere seconds.

And therein lies the rub.

The fly in the ointment

I’ve always been a fan of puzzles and puzzle games. After nearly 30 years on this planet — much of it spent assembling puzzles and memorizing patterns — I find myself craving a good challenge. Simple little sliding puzzle games are fun and distracting, but my brain demands more complexity.

And so, rather foolishly, I assumed that this game might meet that demand. Like a lot of free app games, the levels in Parking Jam are basically infinite. You can keep playing and playing, with the difficulty going up a bit each time. With that in mind, I believed that, if I plowed through the first 50 to 100 levels, more challenging puzzles might be waiting for me.

This was absolutely, positively not the case. I can honestly say that, after playing nearly 1000 levels of Parking Jam, things did not get more challenging. In fact, the difficulty/complexity seemed to level out after 100 rounds. Still, I pressed on, hoping that I wasn’t wasting my precious time on Earth on a fool’s errand.

Well, guess what? I was. And I am the fool.

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You can download Parking Jam for yourself from whatever app store your smart device uses. But be warned: if you’re a puzzle lover like me, sleep will absolutely be lost.