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Tangram Attack! Review


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On 08/04/2014 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

The best angle to solve a problem is the WATAAAA-angle.
RECOMMENDATION:

Wears out too quickly to recommend to anyone.

Even if you can never remember what it’s called, you’ve messed with tangram before. Probably in elementary school when it improved your understanding of geometry so extensively that your mind zipped out of your body to an ethereal realm of triangles and squares where you were truly at peace. Or, you used it once, decided it was boring, and stared at the carpet instead. Well, now tangram is back! And attacking!? That’s right, the set of shapes that can be formed to sort-of look like anything you can imagine is the center of the fast-paced, mind-challenging Tangram Attack! that found a way to make those simple shapes into a pretty good game – for a while.

Normally when tangram is involved, the activity is in figuring out how to create an animal, object, or person out of the triangles, square, and parallelogram that make up the provided shapes. Tangram Attack! flips this whole concept around and asks you to slice up the already-made picture into the shapes it’s made out of. The trick is that the lines delineating the shapes are mostly unseen, so you have to deduce how the shapes came together to form a given image and slice it apart into its pieces with the stylus.

Confused? As an example, you’ll be shown an angular picture of a running man, and you have to make cuts through the running man to lop off the different pieces one at a time. You can keep track of what pieces are remaining up on the top screen that shows you what’s left from the reliable set of tangram shapes. There’s generally only one way that each picture can be made, and so only one way you can break it back apart, which makes it a challenge.

You get up to speed pretty quickly in the required “Academy” mode where it starts you off with most shapes colored differently, so there’s little doubt of where to slice. As you advance to earn belts (as in martial arts), fewer and fewer of the shapes are given different colors until they are eventually all just one giant geometrical thing that you have to carve up. Each of the modes outside of the Academy mode uses this top-level difficulty, so forcing you to nearly complete all of the lessons before moving on was a good design choice.Some of the different modes have have a time limit, but not all. You earn scores depending on the number of mistakes you make and how fast you go, depending on the mode you’re in. There are also scoring multipliers that pile up as you solve puzzles without mistakes, giving you a way to really work up some high scores as you get better and better, or at least until you memorize most of the puzzles and quit.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that there are only so many pictures you can make out of a set of tangram shapes that would work in this game, but after busting through the academy and doing the other modes a little, you’ll have a good chunk of the puzzles memorized. This makes the post-tutorial levels start to feel a little pointless, unless you’re up for a trial of your memorization abilities. There is no further incentive to keep playing other than high scores, so once you’ve seen it all, it’s you versus the score and nothing else. Well, you can also level up by gaining experience and prestige levels, just like in Call of Duty, but I could find no payoff from doing this and it seemed painfully slow.Up until the point when you start to know all the puzzles fairly well, the challenge is pretty enjoyable from both mind-tingling and reaction time angles. The only real detraction is that sometimes your swipes don’t register quite right and you’ll get flagged with an error when really you were spot-on. The touch-screen detection normally doesn’t do you wrong, but when it does it can be particularly frustrating since it seems to always foul up when you are working up a huge score multiplier. There are also a few situations where there can be more than one shape combination possible, and in those cases you’re left guessing which way the makers picked and when you guess wrong, you feel cheated.

I’ll give Tangram Attack! a lot of credit for taking a crusty old game and making it interesting. I liked it for a while but sadly there is no reason to play for very long since you’ll eventually know exactly what to do on each puzzle when they pop up. Even if there were more pictures to break apart, I’m not sure that would make it any more engaging since they’re all about the same difficulty and there’s nothing new to uncover along the way. Even though the enjoyment wears out fairly quickly, at least this version of tangram is a lot more fun than staring at the carpet.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

KnightDriver

08/05/2014 at 02:55 PM

I love the presentation. Reminds me of some Popcap games I used to play. The gameplay really doesn't interest me though. I can see how once you figure it out, it'll just become how fast can you do it.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

08/05/2014 at 10:30 PM

You nailed it. Not bad, but hard to recommend this over any decent free game on mobile.

BrokenH

08/10/2014 at 11:26 PM

I came for the Kenshiro reference but I fancy puzzle games from time to time too. Like the art style for this one! Who doesn't love slashing things into pieces? (But yeah,I can see how it can get repetitive after awhile)

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