There's nothing really wrong with Virtual Jigsaw. The graphics are reasonably good. There's almost no sound to annoy or enthrall you. Each of the five levels is appropriately difficult or easy. It's just, well, missing something.
Virtual Jigsaw: MasterPieces is one of four available editions of the game. (The others are Photo Gallery, with photos of landscapes and wildlife; Purrr-fect Puzzles, with lots of cat puzzles; and Wildlife - you guess.) You select a work by your favorite artist, from van Gogh to Vermeer, choose the difficulty level, from 20 pieces to 200, and presto! The computer creates a puzzle just the way you want it.
Putting all those little puzzle pieces together, however, is another story. While the piece is easily controlled - you can drag, flip, move, and rotate with right and left mouse clicks - lining the pieces up to the computer's satisfaction is extremely difficult. You know the piece fits, but the AI takes some convincing. And when the computer is satisfied, it joins the pieces together seamlessly with a slightly annoying "mmmpock" sound - one of the very few sounds anywhere in the game (the other is the short, happy selection heard when a puzzle is completed). However, once the pieces are joined together, they behave as one piece and it's easy enough to move around whole frames, partial frames, and islands.
One feature the folks at SouthPeak Interactive seem particularly proud of is the double-sided puzzle, which makes for more than 6,000 puzzle possibilities. You can create a puzzle with Rembrandt on one side and Gaugin on the other. Or, better yet, you can choose from the post-modern canvases done in a single color (red, neon green, white, electric blue, black) to create a black on black puzzle. Put it against the black background, turn the "shadow" feature on to prevent insanity, select the "Impossible???" difficulty level - which, it should be noted, shatters the puzzle into bizarre and unpredictable shapes reminiscent of Rorschach blots (What do you think it is, dear?) - and you have a giddily frustrating puzzle to play with. Granted, that's probably not what SouthPeak had in mind when they developed the game, but it's an entertaining bonus.
The major problem with VJ lies in the overall concept. The whole joy of jigsaws comes from the tactile sensation of holding the thin cardboard between your fingers, from the soft snap of one piece fitting snugly into another. Doing a jigsaw with Grandma was fun because you and Grandma chatted all the while; doing one with your brother was great because it invariably turned into a who-can-flick-a-piece-the-farthest contest. Virtual Jigsaw: MasterPieces has solid renditions of great works of art, good gameplay, and very good replay value; but unless you, Grandma, your brother, and the dog are sitting around the computer together, it misses the point.