Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tappingo (3DS eShop) Review

Tappingo released this past Thursday on the North American Nintendo 3DS eShop. It can be likened to a game like Picross in some regards. See how it is a puzzle game that holds its own and creates its own identity with our review.

Tap, Tap, Taparoo

Goodbye Galaxy Games is a studio I'm not familiar with, and I'm sure it is a studio that you're probably not familiar with as well. That said, by doing a little research, I've discovered that the studio has done some acclaimed DSiWare titles like Flipper and Color Commando. Even still, you and I not being familiar with the studio hasn't stopped Goodbye Galaxy Games from saying the following on their newest game's site:

"Gameboy had Tetris, Nintendo DS had Picross. Now 3DS players get their puzzle craze called Tappingo!" 

Now, while that's a pretty nice category of games to put your own title in, is Tappingo as addicting, amazing, and a game that may influence other puzzle games in the future to be put in the same blurb as Tetris and Picross? Well, no, but that doesn't stop it from being an enjoyable and inexpensive puzzle genre offering all the same!

Marketing lines aside, Tappingo is a brilliant take of the puzzle genre that employs some similarities with the game of Picross. With Tappingo you're solving pixel art puzzles. Instead of having a grid with numbers assigned to the top and left sides to determine how many spaces on each row and column needs to be filled in to create a picture, Tappingo has squares all over the grid that each possess a number.

Here's where Tappingo differentiates itself from its inspiration. The numbered squares scattered all over the grid dictate how many grid spaces long each line the player draws from each square should be. For instance, if a square has the number 2 on it, you need to draw a line that's two squares in any direction.

The catch here is that each line automatically extends itself until it hits another square, another line, or the edge of the screen. The trick of each puzzle is to make it so each square you create a line from all say "OK," meaning all lines are the appropriate length. When that sometimes tricky feat is performed, you've solved the puzzle, completing some type of simple shape, object, or animal pixel art. As I finished each puzzle, a little jingle played and pixelized confetti flew out of the object I had just created. The completion of a puzzle was quite gratifying and gave me a personal feeling of accomplishment.

Tappingo comes with over 100 unique puzzles that come in both small form and large form. Small puzzles are much more manageable than their larger brothers. That isn't so much because they're simpler to solve, but because of control issues when using the stylus (my preferred method of control). Large puzzles don't allow you to zoom in at all, so the whole puzzle is shown on the bottom screen in its entirety. This means the squares you have to work with are tinier in size than what you're used to.

This makes it all too common to accidentally touch a square you didn't intend to touch, which in turn, can mess up your progress on the current puzzle. Such careful precision is required, and even then you can still foul up the puzzle rather easily. It's a domino effect, really. Line A that made Line B the right length disappears, thus making Line B that was formerly the correct length incorrect. This, in turn, makes Line C, which was also correct in length, become the wrong length because Line B is now messed up, too.

Regardless, all of this can be avoided by using the analog controls. However, this makes the large puzzles take some time, as you have to drag the cursor around the multitude of spaces the grid possesses. Still, it's nice to have an option to play either with the stylus or with buttons when the need or desire presents itself.

After the initial tutorial is completed, you have access to every puzzle in the game. That's great for freedom's sake, but it also reveals how Tappingo is pretty much a one-trick pony. There's no variances, new elements, or additions to the formula other than the size of puzzles. I was easily able to complete the last puzzle of Tappingo after finishing off around fifty puzzles in order. Once you find your groove, you can blast through most of the game's puzzles. Mistakes will indeed be made, but you can sort of figure out Tappingo's game logic after enough puzzles.

Before Tappingo, I was not aware of Goodbye Games Studio or the game's creator, Hugo Smits. However, now I am interested in trying out their past and future projects. Tappingo is a smart puzzle game that shows that one can take an existing idea that already works and is fun, and expand upon it to create an entirely new and novel gaming experience. For $2.99 for 100+ pixel art puzzles, Tappingo is a very attractive game that will take some time to complete. While there is no real incentive to replay puzzles, as there are no online leaderboards; and the controls aren't perfect, Tappingo is an engaging puzzler that will have you happily tap, tap, tapping away.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

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