In Turnellio, Tonypa manages to apply his own twist to the well-explored genre in order to breathe some life and individuality into it. In standard match-3 games, you change the location of tiles that themselves never really change. Here, you don't change the location, but the tiles themselves. Each tile can face in one of four directions (up, down, left, and right), and you can rotate each tile ninety degrees clockwise by simply clicking your mouse on it. Get three or more tiles lined up in the same direction horizontally or vertically, and they disappear giving you points and progressing you to the next level. Easy, right?
Well, there are a few obstacles to contend with as you go along. For one, gaps will develop in the grid across which matches can't be made. The only way to get rid of these nuisances is to drop them to clear out the tiles beneath them, effectively dropping the gaps out of play.
Also, by now I'm sure it has occurred to some of you that much of the challenge in the game can be removed you just keep rotating tiles until something happens. Yes, you can do this, but every time you turn a tile without making a match, another tile gets locked and can't be rotated. Lock up all the tiles on screen, and your game is over.
Analysis: Turnellio is match-3 the way only Tonypa could do it. All of the trademarks are there, from the exotic title to the simple but attractive graphics to the infectious back track all of which surrounding engrossing gameplay.
The brilliance of Tonypa's continued works is that he conceives simple yet original gameplay ideas and instead of overexposing them, under using them, or misusing them, he distills games around them so that they are allowed to meet their full potential. In this most important aspect is Turnellio like the rest of its developer's games.
The twist at work here, rotating the tiles instead of relocating them, is one of those ideas that is so simple it's almost unbelievable it hasn't been explored up until now. And while the adjustment seems rather small, it's just big enough to rekindle an ebbing interest in match-3 games. Like Zerosum, Turnellio's departure from the match-3 standard gives it the capacity to get you hooked on it all over again. Even more interesting is that Turnellio offers compelling gameplay without the gaudy power-ups and special moves that modern match-3 games often resort to. Yes, you can build some impressive combos, but don't look for the special attack button that lets you clear half a board; you don't get one, and really, the game doesn't need it.
Turnellio is also not the most challenging game ever conceived, which is a double edged sword. The game is not timed, meaning you never have to think fast, and while the locking of tiles does act as a punishment for randomly clicking on tiles, I don't think it is a fast enough acting punishment. Gaps and locked tiles are the only real obstacles you have to face in Turnellio, and they don't really accrue so quickly that you can't cope with them. Because Turnellio isn't all that difficult, it definitely makes it more readily accessible to gamers of all types and abilities, but those looking for a good challenge may be disappointed.
Outside of that, there's little to jeer, and much to cheer about Tonypa's take on a casual gaming staple. With beat poet like coolness (okay, maybe the finger snapping sound effect is sticking with me too much), he offers up his own twists and garnishes them with his penchant for quiet elegance. The result is a game that keeps the heart and inherent fun of match-3 games while experimenting with new and intriguing territory.
Man, this game is totally CUCU! Haha! Ha! Ha. Uh...sorry.
It's nicely executed, but it's too repetitive. The gameplay doesn't change at all.
The gameplay does indeed change as you progress and new immovable tiles are introduced.
As you progress there seems to be more of the blank tiles you can't use, but otherwise not much of the gameplay really changes. It also doesn't seem possible to lose, except maybe if you run out of possible matches, but that would be a pretty rare situation. I played it until I got to a level where it looped back to the original tile graphics.
I am usually a big fan of Tonypa's minimalistic games, but this particular one bored me out of my skull. I managed to reach level 4 before realizing I am not enjoying it at all - some people may find this kind of gameplay relaxing, but I prefer my brain getting an exercise over a repetitive zen-like tile-rotating experience.
I stopped playing at the same time as Alex, when the original tile graphics reappear (level 5?). It seemed like all the play mechanics had been introduced: blank spaces and locked tiles. I kept thinking that the rotation of the tiles should switch back and forth between clockwise and counter-clockwise, just to keep you on your toes. A few more play mechanics would make it more interesting.
I liked this. The lack of a timer allows you to plan your moves -- and once you get to about level 8 or so, you HAVE to plan your moves.
I got to level 11. 68,430 points; 17th place globally.
I liked it also, and I think some people are missing the games objective to get on the leaderboard with a high score. The challenge is to remove the right blocks in order to clear the blank slots and keep blocks dropping to continue. And that requires thinking ahead and planning. I managed to get to level 10 and didn't even come close to the top 50.
Saying the gameplay is repetitive doesn't make much sense to me. Aren't many different types of games repetitive in some sense of the word, as you have to repeat actions until you fail.
I think Tonypa achieved a nice balance. The learning curve is just right, so that I didn't feel like it was outside my abilities. I especially appreciate games that don't hammer me with time limits or other pressure points. Perhaps not for everybody but nevertheless a fine example of casual gaming.
I couldn't figure out what triggered the appearance of blank tiles, and around level 7 I lost interest because I couldn't plan ahead because of that.
Tonypa always manages to strike that balance between challenge and casual fun...it's one of reasons I seek out browser games. This is one of the best he's done, in my opinion--and I have probably played them all! No, I won't play this every day. But I will add it to my favorites and come back to it when I need just whatever it is this game offers me psychologically.
If anyone could update the tired old match 3 genre, it would be Tonypa!
I didn't dislike it, per se, but you know there's something wrong with a game when you find yourself continuing to play out of an obligation to see how far you can go (sixth globally, by the way; not that anyone's counting), rather than because you're having fun. And that's how I felt for levels 5-11, to be honest.
Fortunately, I think this game's problems are more specific than "it's boring." Rather, it's that as the difficulty ramps up, and spaces become more and more frequent, the actual strategy component becomes simpler and simpler. By the time I got to level 11, I could tell with a glance whether or not there was anything to accomplish in the top five rows (answer, usually: no), and then it was pretty straightforward to see which move in the bottom row was the "right" one. And by the time I actually lost, I was barely making any decisions at all. My last ten clicks, in fact, were completely pointless, because remaining pieces were frozen in such a way that nothing could possible get removed.
All of this is counter to how games should run. Sure, having one's options decrease as failure approaches isn't a bad idea, but the strategy shouldn't become simpler. If a player is on the track towards losing, she should break out of it by being clever, not by merely playing the obvious moves and getting lucky.
As for concrete ways to fix this game, I'm not really sure. Certainly some mechanics need revision, but I hesitate to complicate something as pure as a tonypa design. Luckily for me, I'm not the one who has to think about these things.
Oh, and lastly, how great are the sound effects? After playing countless IF games, I'm well acquainted with things making a "satisfying snick," but I'm not sure I'd really heard one until now.
The color choice bewilders me -- I'd rather have had some sort of red -> yellow -> green -> blue to emphasize the color-opposition.
Ezra, I found it easiest to think of the colors as "light green, dark green, light yellow, dark yellow." Then the rule is this: if you have two darks of one color, you can make a line using a light of the same color; if you have two lights of the same color, you can make a line using a dark of the other color.
Still, being able to customize so everyone can pick a personal mnemonic that works sounds like a good idea.
Another beautiful piece of work by TonyPa!
Liked it, but way too long. I didn't plan on spending over an hour on a Tonypa game. I got to level 10 where my strategy ran out. I don't think I want to do that again, maybe I'll go play some Cobacoli for old time's sake.
Thanks everyone for nice words :)
I can see why the game could become repetitive after couple of levels when nothing "new" appears anymore. Still, I feel the strategy could be ranking up more points with bigger combos in early levels when you have more options and then trying to survive longer later when the board gets filled with blanks.
I always appreciate Tonypa's works, but the simple fact of the matter here is that I don't enjoy match-3 games, and Tonypa's influences were not enough to overcome that. :-(
Hmm. I rarely ever actually play games for the score. This is mostly because I'm not usually good enough to get within miles of the leaderboard. So I play for other reasons: to get to the end, to see new stuff, to explore all of the area, to get all of the power-ups, etc. I guess I'm just too casual.
I don't blather in the comments section much, but I found this game to be so clever yet simple that I couldn't help thinking about it.
Like Kyle says, the idea of changing tiles instead of swapping them is very clever, and I found the strategy that this mechanic engendered to be rather deep once I really got into it. Like many, I also find most match-3 games to be tedious, but this one idea could revitalize the genre. I predict seeing more games in the future like this.
But also like others I found the game plateaued around level 5. I (and I know I'm not alone) don't track scores as much as levels - each level in a game is an achievement, while each point is just an arbitrary number. That said, each level must be different the preceding one, either faster or with more obstacles or a different rule. But this game doesn't have that . I think the solution would be to have more gaps and/or locked tiles in each successive level - perhaps starting the level with gaps and/or locked tiles.
A problem with the gaps and locks is that they are random. If they were instead predictable, or indirectly caused by player action, the amount of strategy to play a level would be far greater. For example, you could have each color change result in one of 4 options: gap appears, tile gets locked, tile gets removed, or nothing.
If the tile in the top row in the same column as the change always had a predictable outcome, the player would have an opportunity to plan farther ahead. For example, if changing a tile from yellow to brown always caused the top-most tile in that column to become a gap, but not when other color changes occur, you could use that to your advantage, avoiding the creation of gaps when you could, or keeping all gaps in a single column, etc.
And that's just one idea, but making the gaps and locks predictable would improve the strategic potential.
Lastly, while I liked the color scheme and look of the icons, I was never able to intuit what followed. If the icons were amended with a sequence that felt more natural, I would have been able to focus more on strategy instead of spending so much time remembering what the sequence was. For example, using digits (1,2,3,4) or letters (w,x,y,z) or gradations in shade (light, medium, dark, black) or changes in size (tiny, small, medium, large) - would have been easier than the rotational quality and color change used here.
I say all this because I was very impressed with the game and how sophisticated it is despite its otherwise simple nature.
Got to level 10 with score a little above 54,000. Higher than 77% of the world, apparently.
It's kinda fun in the beginning, and it's interesting to see to see the tile shapes change ever so slightly (until they start repeating). Calm beat as far as the music goes, and the lack of a timer is very nice, especially on later levels. Seems like a game you might play on a rainy day... But all in all, it gets repetitive after a short while.
I knew this was a tonypa game just by the screenshot. Typical analytical style, which I love.
My only complaint is the music is awful. Please, Tony - change it!
Thanks for the ideas, CowboyRobot :)
The placement of of locks is not completely random, they are always placed on top row. If you only have 1 unlocked spot in top row, thats where it will go. Of course if you have more then one free spot there, its picked randomly from those. I could change it so the tile in top row and in same column will be locked first (unless its already locked or its a gap).
The ratio of gaps of course does increase in each level. I did not like the idea of having bunch of gaps filling up the board as soon you enter new level, that feels to me unfair and new ungapped stage also felt like nice prize for completing a level. So the gaps start to appear when you play through the level. In higher levels the gaps just appear sooner.
I love the music, reminds me of my childhood in the eighties ;-) don't change it!
thx, i like the game very much.
Level 10 is my favorite. It is very challenging, with so many blanks, but I never feel that I need luck to get past it, if I am clever enough with my moves. Level 11 can be really fun, too, because it is still barely possible, and passing it feels like quite an accomplishment.
Level 12 is impossible. It is not possible to pass this level. There are so many blanks coming in that eventually you will end up with just the six turnellis at the bottom and nothing else. And then when you can't make a match right away at the bottom they start to lock up and soon it is all over.
So, I suppose my primary complaint is that at some point the game becomes impossible. This is why there are a bunch of high scores grouped in the mid 80 000s. I would like it better if the frequency of blank tiles stopped increasing after level 10 or 11, and the levels started getting harder by just needing more matches to fill up the turnellometer that gets you to a new level.
Great game very addictive. Thanks Tonypa.
After having played a few times and being stuck in level 11 I' welcome the opportunity to play that level without having to restart. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it playing in full a few times. But now I just want to beat that level and continue, but I wouldn't go through all the previous ones.
Any chance of humouring us?