Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Color Puzzle (Game Review)

Sometimes there are games I like because I used to play them in some earlier time. Color Puzzle is one of those tames.

Harken back to those early days on the Internet, around 2005 or so. I was really in love with the new iGoogle home page. It not only helped me to collect all those links I needed, but had these cool things called widgets. You could plaster them all over your home page and get the latest weather, news, and games! One of those games was called Flood-It and it had a simple but appealing game play. You chose a color and tried to fill a block by flooding.

The game was by Lab Pixies. Alas, iGoogle is no more and according to Google, we don't need no stinkin' home pages. And Lab Pixies were bought up by Google and are now doing something cool for Google. Who knows what? You can still get Flood-it on Apple and Android at least, and now something similar to it for the Firefox OS Marketplace called Color Puzzle.

By the way, Flood-it was so interesting that some academic researchers wrote about it and you can study their research here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.4420. Interesting. But we're here to talk about Color Puzzle, which looks like this:

This screen shot was taken from my Geeksphone Peak and it might have been nice for the creator to fill in all that boring white space with some design or a distracting ad, or anything. White space isn't cool. Responsive game design hasn't come to Color Puzzle!

So the game is very simple. How simple? Here's the help screen for this game:


That's pretty exact and works well. A simple game, but that research paper I cited above is a 20 page PDF. Whew!

This game also has score boards so you can see how well you do against others. You get to those scores by clicking on the "hamburger" on the upper left. Yes, that's what the three bars are called (or was that hot dog? Or a trigram for the I Ching?)  Click on the three bars and you get these choices:


Interesting! The black menu on the left goes all the way to the bottom of the Geeksphone Peak, but looks fine on the ZTE Open. Responsive after all, but doesn't fill that white space.

You've already seen "How to Play" and here's what the "My Profile" looks like:



Wow! My first game and I got a score of 5,649,661. In fact, I'm ranked number 3496 in the world. Maybe I should become a professional Color Puzzle gamer. Well, maybe not, when I see that Nicole has a score of 46,010,683. 

But the screen continues:


 I got some badges. Scrolling down more:

And more badges!

When I go to the Leaderboard menu item, I see that I'll never be a player! Apparently the scores above are just current, perhaps for the day or week. Here's the real players:


OMG! A score of 1,186,632,207,378. Maybe they should use scientific notation! I bow down to Mustang Sally, the first trillionaire. Clearly this not only a game of skill, but also one of speed. 

So how do you play?

Here's is a typical screen:

You have six large squares at the bottom, each a different color. You start out by looking at the light blue square at the top left. You want it to expand, to flood, by picking the color it should change to. Your best choices are yellow or orange. If you pick orange, you get two squares for your first score. They will turn orange. But it you pick yellow, you'll have three squares and they will be yellow.

The strategy is to expand the number of blocks as much as you can with each move. So I picked yellow and got this screen:


The next step is obvious. Pick green! That way you will increase the number of blocks you "own" to eleven! Sometimes it is obvious, but like many other strategy games, sometimes you will choose a shorter gain for a longer gain, something that will take you to a big gain. 

I picked green.

What next?

I picked orange because there were four orange blocks touching the green. 

Now it looks like this:

 I'll skip the next several steps and show you what it looks like near the end:

Here we can see that the field is nearly flooded with dark blue. What to pick next? The answer is NOT purple. If you do that you can't flood the purple square in the lower right corner this turn. So the next move would be to flood something else and open up the purple corner. 

How about orange? Yes!


Now it doesn't matter. Pick purple and then green and the game is over! That's how I got my score, but I'm sure I wasn't fast and you can do a lot better. Maybe even take on Mustang Sally.

Here's my first score:

Actually my second, but I wiped the game and started over again so I could get better screen shots. You can see that the score is a factor of moves and time. I'm not sure how it is calculated, but maybe someone more mathematical than I can figure it out. My only math skills are Boolean.

Anyway, this game is just great and works as advertised. No music, a little too much white space, so this only gets a 4 out of 5, but it was close to a 5. Maybe a 4 because this isn't an original game and Lab Pixies got there first!

Cost: Free
Genre: Puzzle
Score: 4 (out of 5)
Tested on: ZTE Open and Geeksphone Peak
Get it at: Firefox Marketplace
Developer:  Catlin Software
https://marketplace.firefox.com/app/color-puzzle