Triple Town Review

Triple Town Review

Feb 2, 2012

There are some words I don’t like to throw around lightly, in case it devalues them. The example I’m thinking of is “addictive”. There are a lot of games that are fun, but the list of games that I physically can’t put down is not long. But some games really are so entrancing that they consume my thoughts even when I’m not playing them. And Triple Town is one of them.

The makers of Triple Town, Spry Fox, have done a brilliant job of combining three gaming aspects that are sure-fire draws: pattern-completion, building, and strategy. It’s called Triple Town because items on the game field must be matched in threes. Place three identical items in proximity of each other and they combine to make a new item of a higher class. Three swatches of grass become a bush. Three bushes become a tree. Three trees become a hut, and three huts become a cottage. I haven’t found out yet what three cottages might become because it is much harder than I expected to build up the item levels without filling the gamespace too quickly. Each game session ends when the gamespace is completely filled with items and there are no more moves to be made. And to make things more complicated there are opponents in the way -bears!- slowing down progress. The bears are adorable and when I saw them in the game logo I assumed that they’d be friendly. But once they are in play, they roam around the board and growl menacingly at the tiny villagers that dare poke their heads out of the huts. Luckily the bears can be of some use. Trap a bear and it becomes a gravestone. Three gravestones become a church, three churches become a cathedral, and three cathedrals become treasure.

There are some hitches though. Items appear for placement in a seemingly random order (think Tetris pieces), and can be difficult to plan around. As well, items can only be placed so long as there some in queue. Play too fast and the queue empties, halting the game. The queue can refill over time, or additional items/turns can be purchased with the in-game coins. This is still maddening as the game really does cast a hypnotic spell that is painful to have interrupted.

It’s a very simple concept but beautifully executed. Pattern-completion is inherently appealing to the human psyche, and the little villages are a joy to create and behold. As items are placed the points rack up and the quest to achieve higher points ranking never ends. I’ve made it to the second level of points only a few times, and I really want to get to level three. Every time I’m playing and have to stop (to eat, sleep, work) I’m sad. And I’ve fallen asleep more than once dreaming about placing some trees in the perfect place.

There is a pretty huge problem with Triple Town though, and it seems to be new as of the last update. The game freezes a lot and badly. Nearly every single time I’ve opened it to play it has frozen irreparably. Twice it has spontaneously re-started my phone completely. It’s a pretty serious problem that affects more than just my enjoyment of the game.

Bug Village Review

Bug Village Review

Jun 21, 2011

There’s a trend at the moment for cutesy god games, simulators where you take control of a cartoon farm, city or shop and try and make it successful. To do this you manage resources, keep away dangers and make sure that everyone in your little conurbation is as happy as can be.

Bug Village is a new entry into the genre from Glu Mobile, originally released on iOS, which tasks you with the building and upkeep of a village for ants and bees. Because as everyone knows, bees and ants are the best of friends and like to live as close to each other as possible. You also have to right fallen ladybugs, but they’re not allowed to live in the village, because that would be weird.

After a brief tutorial, you’re left to manage the village on your own, building new houses for your ever increasing population, leaving them resources and food to find and making sure that none of those evil stink bugs stay too long around your precious huts and fences.

Whilst the game is free to download, you’re only given a certain number of coins to start off with. You don’t need the coins to play the game, but they speed things up a good deal, turning tasks that will, quite literally, take hours, into tasks that take a matter of seconds. If you want more coins, you have to pay, via an in-app purchase system.

The control system is simple, you use your finger as the cursor, tapping on things you want to do. The game looks and sounds almost exactly like you’d expect it to look and sound, all cute insects and twee songs with the odd tinkle and tone thrown in for good measure.

Bug Village is a perfectly passable little sim. It’s not particularly groundbreaking, and the in-app payment scheme will likely put some people off, but if you’re looking for an easy, time consuming game that’s not going to tax your brain or your reflexes, then it could be just what you’re looking for.