Disclaimer: This post is made as an entry for PS Asia’s PS Plus Junior Reporter competition. The points and views raised in the review however are not affected in any way.
Innovative with a side of diabolical cheekiness, that’s how WeirdBeard’s game Tricky Towers feels like at a glance. This is not your average Tetris game. It may use tetrominoes, the L,J,S,Z,T,cube and long shapes but it’s not about clearing lines. Those tetrominoes, and other different blocks that you will have to stack, happen to have physics to it and having them fall off your tower can be detrimental to your progress. Add in power-ups that can benefit you and mess with others and you have a recipe for some chaotic online and local multiplayer fun!
But will it last long?
Graphics & Sound
Tricky Towers takes a very cartoony aesthetic and embraces it. Poppy colours, a whimsical sound ques and songs, cute characters the chuckle in an adorable way. It is pretty simple, but it is effective in telling everything that needs to be understood, and in some cases, effectively obscure some of it.
The aesthetics are solid. The charming looking wizards that are your characters building these tricky towers may not be something memorable or iconic, but it suits the theme well. Though they all seem cute and cuddly, for some reason their cheeky laughs and giggles may or may not tilt you in some ways, as these cute wizards can throw curveballs to you when you least expected it.
While the premise at first glance looks like stacking tetrominoes to clear a line, that is entierely wrong.
Instead, these tetrominoes are the basis of a tower. Depending on the game mode you are playing, you are either stacking them to a certain amount of height in the fastest time, ensure none of the blocks you stack falls off the tower, or figuring out how to stack all of them below a certain level of height.
As mentioned earlier, these blocks have physics. The first thing you will realise is that you move the blocks in half-unit incrementals instead of one, so if you’re not careful enough these blocks won’t stick into each other snuggly. This is where the physics kick in. Unstable blocks can fall off, bringing other blocks with it.
There are some nuances to master with the physics, as towers can go unstable as you build upwards. You can also place blocks in a sideways manner, nudging other blocks to clump together perfectly.
So you need to think of how to build the towers in a stable manner. Sounds simple? From time to time, rival wizards can throw some curveball over your way in the forms of black magic. They can summon irregular blocks- instead of a tetromino, you might get a huge piano, a building block of odd shape just to mess with your tower. Other black magic powers include obfuscating your view by growing weed or have mist coming on the top part of the current tower, change the speed of blocks falling, slippery blocks, making the tetrominoes huge or cannot be rotated or rotate randomly. And all of these can be stacked.
To counter them, you can gain power-ups that benefit you as well in the form of white magic. These spells give an advantage to yourself to keep on building the tower. You can bind blocks with bramble, making that part stable, or stick a stone tetromino where once placed it won’t budge, or add a floating but immovable piece of land to give the tall tower some stability.
Depending on the mode you are in, after winning, you will get a celebratory last piece to place as a sign of victory, while you watch the other towers competing crumble before your glorious tower.
Content & Longevity
Tricky Towers have three game modes: Race, Survival and Puzzle. Race is where you compete to build a tower of a certain height the fastest. Survival requires more careful building where each time a block- or chunks of blocks- fall of you lose a life. Three strikes and you are out. Puzzle is an interesting one, as you will be building towers not to exceed a certain height guarded by a laser. Have a stacked block hit the laser and it’s over.
Although just three modes can be considered not that much, there are variations of difficulty, with each one introducing even more obstacles to deal with while stacking those blocks. Each of these can be played in local co-op up and online up to 4 players. There is a levelling mechanic for online, but it seems to be just showing how much you have played and no other rewards that can be unlocked with more levels.
There are a few options for single-player as well. There are 50 Trials, a mixture of Race, Survival and Puzzle. There is also an Endless Mode, which maybe misleading. It’s more of a Survival mode without any limits set, so you can record a high score of how many blocks can you stack.
And that’s it. Content is pretty light, but if you have friends coming over regularly or have a group of friends online, it won’t be a problem. Just don’t expect the single-player portion can tide you for the whole month.
Tricky Towers is innovative, fun and diabolical. It’s not strictly a puzzler that will reward skill and mastery alone, but if you’re fine with the nasty power-ups that are black magics, have friends to play with and wanted a fresh experience using those Tetris blocks, then Tricky Towers have you covered. It won’t be something you will probably play in long sessions, but if played in short bursts it can be a great pick-up game once in a while.
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