Game time! Topple is a quick, tower building game that is theoretically simple yet surprisingly addictive.
The goal of Topple is simple - build a tower to a goal line without having it fall down.
Sounds simple enough...especially in the first few levels when you have pieces that look like they belong in Tetris. However, as the levels progress, the pieces get more and more complex - including small octagonal pieces, pieces that have triangular sides, etc. Added is the fact that as your progress, the "base" upon which you build your tower is no longer flat, and the goal line is farther away.
Well, suffice to say, I found myself yelling at my iPhone a few times..."No, no, lean this way, no, don't fall!!......$%@#$". I got a few strange looks.
The game's graphics are nice, nothing too complex. The different pieces have faces on them, and respond to being moves and rotated. The sound is a simple background music which fits nicely, along with popping sounds when placing the pieces. It would have been fun to hear the pieces grunt or groan when they are being moved or are in the tower, but it doesn't detract from that game itself.
The controls are simple. You tap and slide a piece to move it. To rotate, you tap and hold, using another finger to "spin" the piece into the correct orientation. One thing I found out the hard way is that it does make use of the accelerometer - tilting the iPhone will tilt the tower (which can help, or hinder your cause).
The game play itself is one of two modes. There is a "levels" mode, where you progress through levels that get more and more difficult (I have yet to make it past level 6, although I have a new strategy I am going to try tonight.) There are nine levels listed - I am not sure if there are more levels, since as I said, I am currently stuck on level 6.
There is also a free play mode, where you just try to build a tower as tall as you can. There is a training tutorial mode as well, to help cover the basics of game play. The tutorial mode is nice because it is interactive; you aren't just reading or watching a video.
On the main menu, there is an option to "challenge" someone - basically send them an email with your high score and challenging them to beat it. I am not sure how I feel about this. Basically, they are trying to get you to be a commercial - tell others about the game. But there is no real reason to tell others - you can't directly compare scores, you can't go head to head, so what's the point?
A multiplayer mode is something that would push this game over the top. I can imagine going head to head against someone, watching their tower go up as your tower starts to fall. Or playing a turn based game, with each person putting one block on and then letting the other person go. Unfortunately there is no multiplayer option - something that I think is far too common in many of the games. Common - with 10 million iPhones in the US alone, surely multiplayer games are the way to go!!
You can keep track of your various achievements, such as the "Barely Award" or the "Flat Trick". Other achievements are hidden until you can unlock them - just a little incentive to try to play more and more.
Pros: Fun, addictive, easy to learn and play
Cons: No multiplayer
All in all, this is a fun game, which is now free (why does that always seem to happen to apps I buy?!?). It is easy to learn, easy to play, and hard to put down - a great combination. If it had a multiplayer mode, I would give it 5 stars, but instead I am giving it four and a half out of five (plus the attempt to get you to advertise for them annoyed me a little bit).
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.