I’m not much of a gamer on my iPad or iPhone, but I like having something to do while I watch TV or take a breather from work. My goto genre, when I’m not reviewing the latest adventure game, is the puzzler or a great word game. One of my old favourites was Circles, a memory game that relied on a cool (albeit familiar) formula and a strong multiplayer.
The latest game from Snowman, the developer behind Circles, is called Super Squares. It doesn’t have a multiplayer, but I’ve been having more fun with it than I did Circles — and that’s saying something. Read on to find out what’s hooked me with Super Squares.
What the Game Is
Super Squares is all about connecting coloured squares, collecting stars, and blowing up bricks. That’s it. It’s a very simple concept: the game comes with three hundred levels to keep you easily entertained while waiting for a bus or a phone call, or even while waiting in line at a restaurant (a friend and I killed some serious time in line with this last week).
The game is basically a grid. The grid has two green, two pink, and two blue squares. Your job is to connect the coloured squares across the grid. Along the way, though, you also have to collect the stars along your path. Paths aren’t pre-defined, so as you connect one square to the next, you can move in almost any direction. But you can’t move through other paths.
Sometimes, a brick will be in the way. You can blow it up with a bomb, of which you have a limited number on each level. If you get stuck, you can restart — but only a limited number of times — or you can blow up every brick (which you can only do a couple times).
Every level feels just different enough from the last that the game is addictive. Just when it feels like it’s getting too hard, they’ll throw you an easy one to keep you going. It’s brilliantly paced, despite its simplicity.
I love the little touches, though. The sound effects are brilliant. They feel very cohesive. And when you’re trying to make it through the level, the charm of the sounds makes it easier to handle. Super Squares knows it’s not an incredibly challenging puzzler, but the fact that every ten seconds can yield a significant victory makes it all go down really easily — and not in a bad way.
It reminds me a little bit of why I love photo editing: you might know that you have lots left to do and plenty of “levels” left to complete before the game is “over” (if you can call it that), but at the same time, victories come quickly. They’re made all the more palpable because you’re quickly rewarded. That sensation keeps you coming back for more.
It doesn’t always keep you coming back, though. The reward system is non-existent. You don’t unlock anything new. There’s no reason to judiciously play through all of it, except to satisfy your inner neuroses. I really wish there were in-game rewards for making it through more of the game — even something as simple as new colour themes would be appreciated.
The game only offers one mode, and that’s it. The 300 levels come free in the game, which is going to be enough for most people. After that, there are in-app purchases. You can purchase a bunch separately, or you can buy them all for $3.99, which I think is a steal given how much stuff they’ll be giving you for that price. If you’ve managed to play through the three hundred levels, you might find that’s enough to get you coming back again.
But again, this suffers from the same problem as the rest of the game: you’re not really unlocking anything new for your money. You’re unlocking more scenarios, but after three hundred, they’re all going to start feeling similar anyway. You’re not truly getting a new experience. At least with something like Letterpress, new themes make everything feel new even when it starts to look stale. (I know I’m harping on the themes idea, but my job isn’t to come up with creative solutions. I’m just pointing out where solutions are necessary.)
Another missing element is the multiplayer component. Multiplayer is really hard to get right. For what it’s worth, Circles did a bang-up job with it, but Circles really lent itself well to turn-based multiplayer. I’m not sure that Super Squares does. It could if the game used a points system based on speed and how many bombs you had remaining, but since the game doesn’t do that, there’s no easy multiplayer solution.
That being said, I would love to see an update that featured points. I think that would fix a number of the problems, and make the game even more addictive.
I’m insanely addicted to Super Squares, and it’s a ton of fun, but it does feel a little hollow. It’s great for those few minutes you have waiting for the trailers to start at the movie theatre, and I’m certainly keeping it on my iOS devices, but I wish there was a more rewarding incentive to keep playing. A multiplayer component would really help.
At the end of the day, I like to hope that those features are coming to Super Squares, but I can’t say for sure. Right now, this is a solid and addictive base to build off of — and I can’t wait to see how the game progresses from here.