Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” This might help to explain why there are so many games that have tried to copy or imitate Tetris. It helps that the original game revels in its simplicity. So many games have tried to “improve” on the original formula by adding new game mechanics. The latest game to try this is Tricky Towers from Weirdbeard Games.
Tricky Towers takes the falling Tetrominoes and adds physics, magic, and a competitive element. It is designed primarily as a multiplayer game. Playing alongside up to three friends (who can either be in the same room as you or the online variety), you compete in three different types of event. Race Battle is a first-to-the-finish event where you have to try and reach a line way above the base of your tower. It doesn’t matter how neat and tidy (or not) your tower is. Whoever reaches the line first and manages to place a final piece on top wins. Survival Battle tasks you with stacking your bricks without any falling off. You have three lives, so drop three pieces and you’re out. In Puzzle Battle you have to stack as many bricks as you can under a laser line. The person who manages to get the most under that line wins.
There’s also a single player mode where you are faced with 50 trials. These are basically solo versions of the multiplayer events. So, Race Trials see you having to reach the finish line before your time limit runs out. In Survival Trials you have to place your entire allocation of bricks without dropping more than two. Puzzle Trials, once again, have you trying to build your tower below the laser line. It has to be said that these trials get very tough, very quickly. I flew through the first 15 trials, but from then on, I found it really challenging. As much as the game works best as a multiplayer experience, I do applaud the developers for including a solo mode.
All of this can be tricky on its own, but in the Race and Survival battles, you can also use magic. There are two types of magic, light and dark. Light magic aids you. You can use vines to keep some of your bricks attached to each other (very useful since, with the physics of this game, bricks will fall apart if they aren’t constructed properly or lean too far to one side). Another light magic power will use lightning to destroy a brick of your choosing. Dark magic hinders your opponent. These can be particularly frustrating when you’re on the receiving end. It could double the size of a brick, meaning you have to deal with a ginormous Tetromino. Another power makes your opponent’s bricks icy, which forces them to be even more careful when placing them. You could force a giant odd-shaped brick to appear. Another one makes the landing area of your opponent’s bricks cloudy, making it particularly difficult to keep their tower neat and tidy.
Visually the game has a nice art style. There are several characters to play as, and you can also choose the appearance of the Tetrominoes being used. It’s all very playful, and if there isn’t anything to your liking, there are more available through the eShop. The various magical powers are also displayed in appropriately “cartoony” ways. My only real qualm about the game’s visuals is that I would have liked the game to have zoomed in a little more when playing in single player mode. I understand needing to fit everyone on the screen in multiplayer, but when playing on your own it would have been nice for the tower and blocks to have filled the screen more.
All in all, Tricky Towers is a fun little multiplayer-focused title. While there is single player, I personally don’t feel that it provides enough on its own to warrant a purchase. However, if you have local or online friends who enjoy a good puzzle game (and particularly Tetris), then this is easily worth the price of admission. Just please don’t blame us when that friendship is strained by the dark magic powers in the game.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Founding Xbox Enthusiast member and serious guitar player. Basically, Steve rocks. Need we say more?