Since it’s been a few weeks since I last posted, I figure my loyal audience might need an update as to what’s happening in Ganbaru Games-land. Well, in December I took a break from development to play through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (which was awesome, by the way). January was regulated to dealing with various illnesses, one after the other. First my daughter got a cold, right after Christmas, and then it spread to my wife and me. No sooner did we start to get better, when the kid got sick again! And now I’m coming down with yet another cold. Bad news! So, as you can imagine, sleep has been taking precedence over programming.
However, every dark cloud has its’ silver lining. In this case, the silver lining is a new, addictive game I’ve been playing called Triple Town. Triple Town has been a Facebook game for a while, but I don’t really play Facebook games, so I never tried it. Fortunately, Spry Fox, the game’s developer, has released both iOS and Android versions, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Spry Fox is actually involved in some litigation right now, suing a former partner that has released a pretty blatant Triple Town clone, so weirdly that also made me more interested in the game. If it’s good enough to straight up copy, there must be something there, right?
The idea behind Triple Town is simple: build up a town on the game grid by placing three or more objects next to each other. For example, three “grass” tiles create a bush, three bushes join to form a tree, three trees make a hut, etc. I’m actually not sure how high you can go, since I’ve never gotten anything above a mansion (3 huts -> house; 3 houses -> mansion). Pretty standard idea, but the twist is that the new structure forms where you placed the last match. You therefore have to plan out your moves so as to eliminate gaps between buildings.
The other twist is wild animals. Bears, to be specific. Every turn, you get a random object to place, and sometimes that object is a bear. Bears move around the board, preventing you from placing regular tiles on the spots they’re occupying. Even worse are Ninja Bears, who jump erratically around the stage. You can get rid of regular Bears by pinning them in a narrow area so they can’t move, but Ninja Bears can only be disposed of by Robots, which clear an object on any tile. “Bear Control” is a key aspect of the game; you’ll find yourself building special holding areas for bears, so they can’t run amok throughout the whole stage.
The game mechanics are deceptively simple, but very addicting. There’s just enough of skill vs. randomness to keep things interesting. In fact, once you get the hang of the game, you’ll probably want to play for some marathon sessions. This is where yet another interesting design choice comes in. Triple Town is a F2P (free to play) game, and its monitization strategy is quite clever. As you play the game, you have a limited number of moves you can make. Your move meter recharges itself over time, and you can also buy more turns using the in-game currency, which is earned by building large towns. However, if you don’t perform well enough during the course of a few play sessions, you’ll eventually run out of turns. That’s when you can either buy more in-game currency (for real-life $$$) or purchase the “Unlimited Turns” DLC. Of course, if you’re patient and wait for your turns to recharge, or create large cities, you can always play for free.
In conclusion, since Triple Town is a free download, you basically have nothing to lose by checking it out. Who knows, you could get addicted just like I have. I think the only way that Triple Town could be improved is if Spry Fox had named it “Trippple Town.”
★★★★★ — Triple Town – Spry Fox
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