Triazzle an addictive brain teaser that comes to life

Posted: July 16, 2009 in Puzzle

One of the great things with the iPhone and iPod Touch platform is the emergence of games for the platform that I played growing up. Classics such as Scrabble, Clue and Monopoly have made successful appearances albeit somewhat varied from their roots. One new game in particular Triazzle is not only well designed but even better on the platform than the original. Dan Gilbert, the inventor of Triazzle, along with his team of Dr. Michael Brady and Billy White Acre have done a tremendous job bringing the Triazzle experience to the platform that I highly recommend. This charming brain teaser has sold more than 5 million copies since its introduction in 1991, and from the looks of things, Triazzle should be just as appealing to the iTunes crowd.

Why would I say that? Triazzle is a matching game, but not your typical matching game. For one, the animation comes to life as game pieces are matched. The other is the beautiful artwork and soothing music incorporated into Triazzle. And on top of that, the game exudes a personality all its own that combines the carefree pick-up-and-play approach with the challenge that casual gamers crave. During a game, animals will fly, jump and hop across the screen, and I’ll tell you the exotic music score and tropical forest developed by Billy White Acre with accompanying sound effects by Dan really add to the immersive feel of Triazzle. If for some reason you happen to not like the game, the soundtrack alone makes this a worthy purchase.

Offering 9 and 16-piece puzzle formats, Triazzle consists of triangle-shaped pieces that can be manipulated and rotated. Triazzle’s tagline is “It’s harder than it looks”, and you’ll find out soon enough that this is an apt description. Depending on the puzzle, the game pieces are decorated with parts of frogs, butterflies, turtles and fireflies each with in a variety of different colors. One of the neat things is as you match creatures with their appropriate colors, they become animated. But, the catch is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the game piece is in the right spot.

The game has 5 game levels identified as Kids, L1, L2, L3 and Surprise Me “?”. Aside from the Kids level, L1-L3 offer a choice of 9 or 16-piece formats while Surprise Me will randomly select a puzzle for you. Games are randomly generated so you’ll never play the same game twice, and it’s simple enough that kids may actually solve puzzles faster than adults. I had my 4-year-old nephew play through the Kids levels, and before I knew it, he had mastered the Kids level. You also have the option of choosing from 50 simple or elaborate backgrounds, but either way, it’s a visual treat. From lush rainforests and deep underwater bubbles to fluttering hummingbirds and textured deserts, the devs’ eye for details is obvious.

Pieces are located along the sides of the puzzle field and in the 16-piece format, game pieces are also stored in two docks that can be retracted. I noticed that in the 16-piece format, game pieces can be somewhat difficult to see in the docks. I find that if you move all the pieces off the docks and retract them, the game pieces increase to full size, making them easier to handle.

One of the things I really like about Triazzle is that it does not have a timer so games can be played at a leisurely pace. Others may want a timer, but I think rushing through a game detracts from the experience. But one suggestion is to add a timer as an option so players can set their own personal marks for finishing games based on difficulty, levels and puzzle format.

The devs also incorporate additional features showing that this isn’t the Triazzle you grew up with. The devs’ creative background shows because these are elegantly integrated into the interface. One is the Hint function which can be activated at any time. Each level has a certain number of hints—K=unlimited, L1=5, L2=4, L3=3—and while the animated Hint shows you which piece belongs in the spot, you must still decide the correct rotation. So yes, it will help, but you’re not out to the woods. An additional feature is the Match function showing which pieces are properly matched with no mismatched characters. However, they aren’t necessarily in the correct position to solve the puzzle. Both of these functions are designed to help you along, but still leave enough of the challenge for you to finish on your own.

For those completely clueless on how to solve a puzzle, the “Shake to Solve” function activated by shaking the device will not only solve the puzzle, it will actually walk you through the rotation and placement of each individual piece. A few times I’ve run this just to watch the process which can be entertaining.

Young or old, Triazzle is an impressively polished brain teaser that delivers quite the experience, presented in a way unlike anything you’ve seen before. The design, animation and soundtrack combine to bring some entertaining gameplay to the platform that puzzlers and non-puzzlers will enjoy.

Albie Meter: 5 Stars (highly recommended—that’s all you need to know)

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