It should not take much to convince someone that Tetris is one of the best games ever. Released in 1984, the legendary title happened to arrive right around the same time as the first non-experimental cell phones. How appropriate, considering that Tetris might also be the greatest mobile game of all time. Carried around and played on millions of Game Boys by literally everyone, Tetris more or less created the blueprints for what makes a fun mobile game. So when news arrives that Alexey Pajitnov, the creator Tetris, has released a new mobile game, it's time to pay attention.
On a side note, I have to say that it's weird to think that Tetris has a person behind it to begin with. Because it's such an institution, to me it always seemed like Tetris evolved on its own, emerging fully formed out of the bleeps and bloops of early video game protoplasm. To attribute it to a "creator" seems like something out of the Matrix. Also, it doesn't hurt that Pajitnov kind of looks like The Architect, minus the Colonel Sanders suit.
So what is this new game? As it turns out, Pajitnov has already turned his attention to iOS earlier in the year with a title called Marbly, released last spring. Dwice comes on the heels of that game, hitting iOS last week. Unlike Marbly, Dwice was not developed for Apple's operating system, but was released for Windows way back in 2006, before anyone even knew what an iPhone was. Though after spending a few minutes with the touchscreen controls, you would be hard pressed to tell that was the case.
Dwice is a fast-paced puzzler that feels quite familiar to its famous relative. For one thing, there are falling geometrical shapes again. In this case, we have "battle shapes" that are tasked with protecting a city below from their falling doppelgangers. These battle shapes are neon and they tumble through a dark sky, accompanied by a moody cyber-punk music bed. Dwice feels like it could be a mini-game hidden within the world of Deus Ex.
The game play of Dwice breaks down to dragging these different shapes around with the touchscreen controls, crashing them into one another in order to form combos and build up your high score. There is a red square, blue triangle, purple pentagon, and orange circle. You can switch your control piece over to any one of these shapes at will, but you will have to make sure to only drag it over corresponding shapes as they tumble down. The more similar shapes you can connect together in matching chains, the higher your score will be.
The faster Dwice gets, the tougher it gets. In addition to trying to last as long as possible, there are plenty of other challenges to take on, such as building a x10 chain 3 times in a row or scoring a certain number of points. There are percentage bars to indicate how far along you are in reaching these goals. But if you let just one of the shapes get by you, or if you crash a triangle into a circle or a pentagon into a square, it's game over.
In addition to the single player experience, Dwice also offers up multiplayer competition, letting you team up with a few other hands to throw down and see who can chain together the most combos. The iPad screen real estate makes things a little cramped for several adult hands. But it's just the right size for kids.
Does Dwice live up to Tetris? Really, that's kind of an unfair comparison to make. There aren't many games that could fill those big, geometrical shoes. But Dwice is definitely an improvement over Marbly, which didn't quite play as though it was up to the task of keeping people glued to their mobile phones. If you're in the mood for a fast-paced action puzzle game from the creator of Tetris, look no further.