Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Triple Town Review

Triple TownSince I purchased my Android phone last summer, I’ve never had any issues with the battery. Generally I’ll be floating at  a carefree 40 to 50 per cent by the time I plug it in to recharge at the end of the day. Yesterday my phone died on me at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and it’s all Triple Town’s fault.

Triple Town is puzzle game developed by Spry Fox. The objective, clearly laid out in its title, is to match pairs of three. The objects being matched in Triple Town take on a more residential flare than the blocks and jewels employed by its genre mates. Match three grass to make a bush, three bushes for a tree, three trees for a house, and so on and so forth. Matching these items progressively builds up your town, and your success lies in your ability to squeeze as many high-value structures onto the map as possible while still leaving enough spare real estate to create new matches. The gameplay is simple to understand, but this restriction of space adds a little meat to the strategy.

There are ROBOTS too.

Adding a wildcard to the whole formula of Triple Town are the bears. Adorable but obtrusive, bears will wander randomly between different plots on the map, blocking you from building where they are standing.  Although a constant source of frustration, the player can turn these predators into bear-faced tombstones by boxing them in with other objects. Match the magic number of tombstones together, and a church will inexplicable appear. While I question what sort of depraved pagan religion these dark shrines worship, I can’t argue with the sizable point bonus.

It’s difficult for me to articulate what makes Triple Town so addicting. The game, while charming in its own right, is fairly iterative of its genre. Anyone who has played Bejeweled will quickly be able to gain residency in Triple Town. In a way, this inexplicable fondness is the highest praise one can lay on a puzzle game. I can’t quantitatively describe what makes Tetris such a timeless classic, but that doesn’t stop me from picking up my old Gameboy every couple of months and matching blocks until my thumbs seize up.

What I’d really like to call attention to is how well Spry Fox has handled the free-to-play model. Anyone can download Triple Town for free on their Android device and play the full game. No features are awkwardly cropped out, and no ads obfuscate the screen. The sole limitation is that the player begins the game with only 150 moves. Once these moves are exhausted, the player has to stop playing unless they shell out four dollars for unlimited moves. However, moves regenerate at a pace of about one every fifteen seconds – even when you’re not playing! This supply is more than enough to placate the casual player.

I waste most of my money on robots. Can you blame me?

For the more invested gamer, there are other options. When your town inevitably gets steamrolled by bears or unchecked urban sprawl, you are rewarded with in-game currency in the form of gold coins. Asides from being able to handily buy mundane and special items to aid in your matching, extra moves are also on sale for a surprisingly fair price. Playing well is rewarded by allowing you to play more, and I found I was able to sustain more or less continuous gameplay in this manner. It wasn’t until I engaged in prolonged play sessions (where gold would be better spent on items to aid with the more challenging echelons of the game) that I found myself pining for unlimited turns.

Honestly though, four dollars is a steal for this game. I’ve shelled out 40 Canadian dollars for titles like Planet Puzzle League and Meteos for the Nintendo DS that haven’t bought be half the entertainment Triple Town has. It may be simplistic, it may be a Pop Cap style time waster, but damned if it isn’t fun.

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By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer