Monday, March 24, 2014

Circle Tetris (Game Review)

Here's a game I haven't seen before that takes an old idea and gives it a new twist! Probably everyone knows about Tetris, that Russian game that swept through the world in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov.

Here is the original, running on an emulation of a Soviet DVK-2 computer.



But there's a new Tetris in the Mozilla Marketplace, called Circle Tetris, created by Guilherme Herzog & Eduardo Costa in Brazil. It looks like this!




That is, if you're not a skilled player. The point of the game is that the blocks drop down from anywhere on the outside and you want them to land in such a way that a complete circle forms. When a circle forms, the pieces disappear and you get an increased score. Or at least I think that is what is happening because there isn't any Help for this game. But maybe that's okay?

Here's how the game starts. One of the cool things is that the circle around Circle Tetris is moving constantly as a nice little decoration.


High scores will show you ... high scores, unless you haven't made a score yet!


And here's the main screen with two pieces.


The red piece has landed and the black piece is falling towards the red piece. You'll need to hit one of the arrow keys to make it fall to either side. 

The button in the middle makes the shape change. It's still the same color but a different arrangement of the four pieces.

There's a helpful gray image that shows where the pieces will land. If you look carefully, you'll see the shadow of the black piece and where it will touch the red piece. One of the things that makes this game really challenging is that the pieces get smaller as they get closer to the center. That makes it very tough to estimate, but you must estimate quickly and move fast.

At the top left you can pause the game and the top right shows your score.

But beware, if your stack of pieces gets too high, the game will be over!


All in all, this is a very cool game. The rules are easy to figure out, but the play is difficult and you will want to go back to see if you can do better. This is a high speed game and requires fast thinking!

Normally I would deduct points for not having any help, but I was reading a cool new book that just came out called  A Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design by Anna Anthropy and Naomi Clark and the authors make a case that sometimes it is better to avoid too many rules and make the game clear. They use as an example Super Mario Bros and how the original didn't tell you what to do, but the Wii version has a big arrow telling you to move to the right, even though you can't go to the left. More about that book later, because so far it seems like a breath of fresh air for game design books (and I've read most of them). 

Anyway, you can figure it out pretty fast by experimenting, but getting points is not easy. It doesn't have any music either or sound effects, but that's okay also. 

I'm very forgiving of a game like this when they do one additional thing. You can see the source code for this game! Just go to https://github.com/guiherzog/circle-tetris and it's all there, even the manifest! Sharing is good!

And best of all, it runs very fast on my tiny ZTE Open and the screen shots are courtesy of App Manager. What could be better? I recommend this game as good mental exercise for those with quick minds and fast fingers.

Cost: Free
Genre: Arcade
Score: 5 (out of 5)
Tested on: ZTE Open
Get it at: Firefox Marketplace
https://marketplace.firefox.com/app/circle-tetris