Review: Tilelander



Version Reviewed: 1.2

Buy Link | Download / Information Link

(Alternative trial download and buy page for the Sony Ericsson UIQ 3 smartphones)

TilelanderThe screenshots quite simply do not get over just how much fun this game is. Neither does the description – I mean a game that can be played as a puzzle? Or as an arcade shooter? You can do both??? Well, you can, and this is a deserved download for any games fan – with no distinction on genre.

Okay, glance at the screenshot, and keep that in mind as I look at the game. Probably the easiest comparison is to two classic games. Firstly, Qix – where you have a cursor that moves around the screen, and when you draw a square it gets filled in (the aim in that game is to fill a specified percentage of the screen). Secondly, Microsoft’s Jezzball (which admittedly is a reworking of Qix in itself) which is a little bit more grid based than the pixel perfection of the original Atari arcade Qix. In both games you die whenever your cursor is touched, or if the incomplete line being drawn is touched by an enemy before you finish.

Tilelander takes all these concepts, and throws in a massive number of power-ups, different types of tiles that you can capture (by drawing around them), bullets flying… think of the difference these could make to the classic bat 'n' ball 'n' wall game (i.e. Arkanoid) and you’ll see just how much fun Tilelander can be.

The big twist is that not everything moves when they want to – okay, bullets and certain gotchas are always on the move, but the main enemies will only take one ‘step’ when you take one ‘step’ – and thus the puzzle and planning elements that are normally snap decisions in a pure arcade game are now promoted to something a little bit more strategic. I wasn’t expecting this one change to the game flow to make any difference, but it does, and it does it for the best.

Without this one change, you’d have a massive, frantic, reaction time-based game. What you now have is a delightful ebb and flow, between moments of panic and quiet contemplation. It makes it perfect for a mobile game.

The introduction of all the power ups takes place over the duration of the 70 levels – and the first ten are available to play in the demo version (a sensible limit, you can try it out and have a good challenge, but there’s enough left over to make you want to spend the $13 to get the full version).

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Available for UIQ 3 and S60 3rd Edition devices, Tilelander is a great showcase of mobile gaming. The presentation of the menus is about the only thing that stops it looking 100% professional – but it’s the game that counts, and it’s more than easily recommended.

Ewan Spence, 13 Mar 2007

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