Tangram Attack 3DS Review
Don’t Create, Destroy
Remember how in elementary school you used to get those colorful blocks that were all squares and rhombuses and different sized triangles, and you could use them to make images of cats and houses and people? In Tangram Attack, you get to take all of those little block pictures and DESTROY THEM.
Meaning you get to slice them apart with your sword/3DS stylus. No tangram blocks were harmed in the making of this game.
The goal is to slice apart each image until it’s reduced to its individual blocks. But you can only separate one block at a time. If you try to slice in an area that would cause two or more blocks to separate from the rest of the puzzle, you get a penalty.
When you first start the game in Academy mode – the only mode that has any kind of story – it seems entirely too easy. But even then, I had fun slicing and dicing the puzzles apart with my stylus as quickly as I could manage. The bonus multipliers, encouraging words, and satisfying sound effects work much like a slot machine – pulling you in and creating an addictive quality. It’s a good thing there’s no money involved.
The difficulty comes when they start making more and more of the blocks the same color. When they’re all different colors, you can see exactly where to cut. When they’re the same, you can’t see any seams. You have to rely on the top screen’s image of each block used and your spatial abilities to determine where to cut. Even then, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a mass of blocks in a shape that makes it impossible to be sure which cut is the correct one. This is distressing when one wrong cut can kill your multiplier streak or even end the game, depending on which mode you’re playing.
My biggest complaint is about the inconsistency in how precise the game wants you to be when you’re making a cut. Sometimes I’ll make the sloppiest, most haphazard slice and it will somehow still work. Other times I’ll draw right across the most obvious line only for the game to take away my x8 multiplier and tell me I’m “ice cold.” Then I make the exact same cut again and it works. Plus, sometimes you’ll think a block is only touching another with the corner, but it’s actually just barely adjacent, meaning that you need to adjust the angle of your cut a little bit for it to work. This really hurts the quality of the game.
It would also be nice if Academy mode had more of a sense of accomplishment to it. The story is that you’re earning your various belts (yellow, white, purple, etc.) up to the black belt. But it doesn’t really give you any indication that you’ve earned a belt until it says it’s time to earn the next one. A simple animation displaying your freshly-earned belt would have gone a long way toward keeping my interest and making me feel good about myself. It’s the same with the special badges and increasing your level on the other game modes. Little starbursts saying “LEVEL UP!” or displaying a badge gives the player something to celebrate and motivates them to pursue more.
Tangram Attack has different game modes for multiple types of people. As you play Academy Mode and get your tutorial on, you’ll unlock the Arcade, Blitz, and Zen Modes.
Arcade Mode, my personal favorite, is about getting the highest score possible. You try to get through each puzzle quickly but carefully under a timer, adding more time with each successful cut. You get time penalties if you make a mistake. Doing well will get you bonus “frenzy” puzzles where each block is a different color, so you can get your multiplier going and score a lot of extra time.
Blitz mode is more intense. You only have 60 seconds in which to get as many points as possible, with no time bonuses or penalties.
Zen mode is the opposite. There’s no timer, but three mistakes on a single puzzle will end your game. You can sit back and take your time dismembering each image. Personally, I like the slice-and-dice excitement that comes with a timer.
The thing that really stood at to me about this game was that, despite the fact that I kind of suck at it (yes my spatial abilities are lacking yes I am a woman haha moving on), I didn’t get mad at it. I’ll get angry at other games when I’m not doing well or losing a lot. I’ve thrown controllers. Don’t even talk to me about Pokemon Pinball. But Tangram Attack really does have a zen quality to it. I was perfectly content to suck at it with Netflix on, getting through Academy Mode in about 90 minutes and moving on to try the other modes. I picked it up again the next day to suck some more.
Plus, it’s a really great game for anyone who needs to practice spatial abilities or wants to improve their reaction time. And it’s only $2.99.
The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a fun yet laid back distraction on the 3DS, Tangram Attack is a good an inexpensive choice. I imagine I’ll be playing it again on planes and at the DMV.