I've come to really love my iPhone for the bouts of quick and easy gaming it can provide, which comes in especially handy for impatient moments such as waiting in line at the bank. I have a modest handful of favorites for that purpose, but I'm always open to discover a new one. Enter Trixel, a puzzle title from Adept Games that starts off deceptively simple and grows more challenging as you progress.
Priced at $2.99, you can easily find yourself looking at a game like Trixel in the App Store trying to decide whether it could be yet another average puzzler (think WiiWare syndrome) or something out of the ordinary. Oh wait -- you don't have to wonder! You can hit the jump and I'll tell you all the details.
Due to the glut of puzzle games available on iTunes, it might be easy to glance at Trixel and assume that you are about to play another mindless title with bright colors. While the game has a nice tidy look, nothing about its style is going to have you doing a double take. It's the gameplay that makes Trixel really work though, and I'll take over a startlingly different look any day.
Trixel's gameplay presents you with the task of flipping tiles to create a specific pattern of color (your goal will be shown in the top left of the screen). The touch controls are easy and intuitive, and there's no peering over your finger to try to make sure you're doing it right. In its main mode, Puzzles, you will have to complete each puzzle in a certain number of moves. If you do it perfectly, you'll earn a gold trophy, while one less move will earn you a silver. You can also win a bronze below that, but if you take too many moves the game will say you've failed and simply restart the level.
It all begins very simply, but it won't be long before you'll need to spend a few minutes looking at each puzzle to figure out the solution. The challenge is intensified with the introduction of a variety of obstacles every 8 levels such as bombs or teleport tiles (when the latter comes in, if you've been coasting on luck up to now, you're screwed). By the time you progress halfway through the game's 100 levels, you will definitely see how much thoughtful gameplay it has to offer.
Easy level is open when you begin the game, but in order to unlock medium and hard, you'll need to complete easy. Easy is no joyride despite the name, but you'll have a few things at your disposal to help out along the way. Powerups such as Undo, which allows you to back up a step, and Warp, which allows you to skip levels, can come in very handy, especially in the later levels.
If you tire of Puzzle mode, there's also Race The Clock mode, which presents you with twelve maps and four different levels of difficulty (relaxed, fast, frantic and furious). This is a great mode, but I have to say I don't think I was cut out for it -- or I need some serious practice. The moment you finish one puzzle, another one comes at you. This is great for expert puzzlers, and even better if you find you're getting incredibly fast at the game and want to see just how quickly you can pull it off.
Overall what I took away from Trixel was that it was a solid title, but may not appeal to the average casual gamer who is looking for something with a slight challenge, but not something too hard. Trixel can get fairly challenging, and that's excellent news for a gamer looking for something less mindless. With that in mind, I'd say grab it if you like to use your brain, but pass if you Bejeweled is your favorite game of all time.
Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)