Tetris is great, right? It’s incredibly simple, and yet can become devilishly addicting. Literally anybody can pick up a game of Tetris and begin playing, because the game manages to scratch that oddly satisfying itch of organising things with pixel-perfect precision. You fill a line, and it clears – everybody understands this, and it’s what keeps people coming back time and time again; no matter how many re-releases are pumped out on every single platform available.
Now, remove almost everything that makes Tetris fun, throw in some unnecessary ‘magic’ gimmicks, and a mundane, repeating soundtrack. What have you got? Tricky Towers, of course!
Tricky Towers has no shame in displaying just how much of a rip-off of Tetris it really is. Even the blocks you’ll be stacking are identical in shape and colour to those found in its superior influence. The basic premise of the game is that you’re a magician floating on a cloud, and you must rotate blocks as they are tossed at you by another magician in order for them to balance on a narrow platform until you reach a defined height, at which point the level ends. There’s also an ‘endless’ mode included, which continues throwing blocks until your tower topples over on itself, but it does little to bolster the meagre content on offer. The single player experience amounts to a collection of trials which rotate between three possible modes: stack the blocks until they rise above a line; stack the blocks in a manner that means they won’t hit a laser that’s hovering above; stack a set number of blocks without three of them toppling into the abyss. Rinse, repeat, and then swiftly delete.
There’s not even an interesting graphical style or soundtrack which would have you coming back in place of horrifically dull gameplay. The visuals look like a child could have drawn them with crayons, but it’s not as if that’s the point, and we’re all meant to applaud them for being creative – it’s simply shit. And, not only that, but the developers have the cheek to offer a £2 bundle which will increase the number of playable magicians to above 4. This is bearing in mind that the magicians do literally nothing in terms of varying gameplay, and they are in fact a small sprite located on the side of the screen. Good thing that there’s a substantial ‘Wizard Shop’ panel on the home screen which takes you straight to this meaningless purchase, huh?
And I haven’t even begun to talk about how god-awful the stacking truly is. Just to reference Tetris again (because it’s great): In that game, your blocks all move within a defined axis, and move a single pixel at a time. This means that, whatever happens, if you fail then it’s ultimately due to you not being able to slot blocks together succinctly enough. In Tricky Towers, however, blocks have physics and can topple around. In theory, this sounds like a neat idea that makes balance a key part of the title. In practice, it means that blocks will randomly slide ever so slightly to the left or right, meaning that any blocks you attempt to place next to them will clip the top of the initial block and fall into the aforementioned abyss. Is this meant to be fun? Because all it feels like is a broken mechanic that was meant to give an already dreary game some semblance of creativity.
Because it’s a game that loosely presents itself as being about magic, Tricky Towers incorporates spells which are designed to mix-up the state of play. You might be struck with a spell which radically increases the size of a block, or have the ability to turn a block to stone so that it won’t move when placed. Sound enthralling? Because it shouldn’t – yet again, it’s a halfhearted attempt at making this game feel like something other than a poor excuse for a rip-off.
Unfortunately, this marks yet another month when the PlayStation Plus offerings on the Playstation 4 have been average at best. Last month’s Furi was good fun, but the roster has been gradually declining since the PS4’s launch. Here’s hoping that September’s titles justify the £40-a-year price tag, because Tricky Towers certainly does not.