If there are two things I’m an absolute sucker for it is puzzles and 80’s synth music (*drools over Blade Runner soundtrack*). I remember each year my stocking stuffers for Christmas would include, aside from the odd bits of Santa Clause shaped chocolate, variants of logic puzzles, those metal ones you must unlock, or those wooden soma cubes, sometimes crossword puzzles or word finders, always something to work the mind. Every morning I still enjoy a crossword puzzle, maybe a word jumble, with tea, and yes, I offset the quaint quietude of this with the metallic, futuristic digital sounds of the likes of Crystal Castles.
So imagine my delight when I received an app review request from Inovaworks for their iPhone app Dropoly, a super cool take on the classic Blockout game from 1989, the first 3D digression from the classic Tetris game. The game blares bouncy digital synth music as you play and the title name of Dropoly is typed out in a square, 80’s computer font that reminds me of TRON. Apparently, Dropoly uses a retro soundtrack, provided for by Tor Bernhard Gausen, the famous game and demo music composer from another Tetris remake, Twintris, and multiple demos from the 80′s and 90′s.
Granted, Tetris is already a difficult game at its higher levels, but its difficulty cannot compare to the spatial mind game that is Dropoly. A three-dimensional plane takes over the two-dimensional playing field of Tetris, and the view is centered aerially, rather than sidelong, which, I suppose, is the easiest and least obstructing way to view the pieces as you rotate them, but can still impede your visualization once pieces have been placed down. Aside from being fun, the game really challenges your spatial predictions, as you memorize the previous pieces’ layout and visualize how the current piece would best fit.
The polycubes (shapes) of Dropoly are artfully rendered in a transparent blue color, turning red when, holding them with your finger, you assign them a specific place to land. Four dots appear to the top and bottom, left and right of each shape, which you use as markers to manipulate the rotational direction of the shape, moving it horizontally and vertically along all three axes. To elucidate, the common “L” shape is normally rotated a whole 360 degrees with sharply delineated right angle turns in Tetris, with only one side, the long face, facing you; whereas in Dropoloy it’s a three dimensional playing field – you may rotate it an additional 360 degrees on each face. Rather than simply turning the shape on a two dimensional plane, as if turning it flat on a table, you must take into account each side of the shape, and the rotations that exist for that side.
You may create custom playing fields in Dropoly, which you may do through the Game Mode screen or through the Options tab on the main screen. If don’t want to create a custom setting, on the Game Mode page there is a choice of Flat Fun, 3D mania, or Out of Control, each increasing in difficulty. The default settings for the custom pit are a block width of 7 by a height of 5 by a depth of 18. These may be altered according to your whims along with the type of blockset, of which there is a choice between Flat, Basic, and Extended – generally, beginning players should stick with the Flat blocks as these retain flat plane properties, while the Basic and Extended blocksets are polycubes that jut out into other planes, creating more three dimensional shapes. The polycubes present in Dropoly are the ones you see in any soma cube puzzle – the L tricube; the T, L and S tetracube; the left and right screw tetracube, and the branch tetracube (in case you’re not hip to the lingo, a tetracube is a geometic shape composed of cubes connected at right angles, otherwise known as “orthogonally”).
Trust me, once you start playing with the Extended blocksets, visualizing arrangements becomes quite the taxing feat, as viewing from a strict aerial perspective hampers your ability to understand the three-dimensional playing field. I almost wish there was the option of scanning the entire playing field from all angles, though perhaps that would lessen the mental challenge.
Taxing on the brain, sweat-inducing, and maddeningly fun, Dropoly is my new favorite game, challenging and strengthening my mind in a way that doesn’t remind me of those spatial challenge questions common in SATS and IQ tests. Only $0.99, I say buy Dropoly today, but for our fervent readers, Ivanaworks has generously provided several Promo codes so you may download Dropoly today, for free.
*When using the promotion code to download for free, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. Out of courtesy, please leave a comment below mentioning you’ve used the promotion code.