You may know developer Steven Troughton-Smith as the man behind Stack, Doom, or Lights Off. He also made SameGame, which is a pretty new interpretation of the classic puzzle game: Same Game. This edition of SameGame was designed by Tim Davies, who also happens to be the lead developer over at Yummy Cocoa.
When you open SameGame, you are immediately thrust into a game screen. However, I like to browse through the menus first, so we’ll do that. Upon tapping the settings button on the toolbar, a nice little animation shows a menu with 3 choices: How to play, Settings, and About.
‘How to play’ tells us the following tells us that the goal of the game is to remove groups of three or more gems by double tapping. We also want to tap of larger groups to get more points. We can also eliminate groups of two, but we cannot get any points. In the ‘Settings’ menu, Sound Effects and Music can be toggled. Interestingly enough, you can also toggle shapes. The different coloured blocks become stars, circles, diamonds, and a variety of other shapes. It makes differentiating the shapes much easier. However, the settings only apply after you restart the game by pressing the ‘New Game’ button in the bottom left corner of the toolbar.
The ‘About’ screen accredits Steven Troughton-Smith and Tim Davies to Developer and Designer respectively, along with trumpeting that it was Irish made. It also provides a link to other Irish-made applications. Back to the main screen, so I can play the game here.
As far as puzzle games go, this edition of SameGame is pretty average. You tap a group of gems, they wiggle around, and you tap them again to confirm their removal. As they disappear, the gems above it fall down. When you have completely exhausted all possible ‘gem mining’ opportunities on the screen, SameGame does not tell you. You have to manually hit the ‘New Game’ button on the toolbar to get it to start again.
Now you’ll also notice a progress bar in the toolbar showing your score and a progress bar. Upon reaching the end of the toolbar’s progress bar, it starts over again. Steve, tell me, what does this mean?! I don’t know what happens now! Does it get more difficult? Perhaps. What’s the whole point of the progress bar? At 100 points into the 2nd progress bar cycle, I received a popup telling me that I had reached the next level. What do levels mean? There’s nothing to keep you coming back to SameGame.
Other puzzle games like Trism and Lexic have goals, high scores, time limits, different modes, and creative implementations of old ideas. SameGame doesn’t have this. There are no times, scores, goals, or even an explanation of the mystical levels or the progress bar that keeps popping up. SameGame’s sounds are more bizarre. The music is very strange ambient tones set in a minor key varying between two notes in a choir voice.
It’s actually kind of creepy, and does not fit the smooth, yet oddly happy looking nature and feel of SameGame. The sound effects sound mildly like popping balloons. I turned both off.
SameGame’s menu system ‘bugging out’ and shape mode.
Stability wise, SameGame is horrific, but mostly on a jailbroken device. Due to the SpringBoard extensions typically found on my jailbroken device, SameGame has crashed on me innumerable times and has been extremely slow in others. However, on a stock device, SameGame runs very smoothly with the following exception. The menu system has also completely failed me. All the menus mixed together and became one, and all of the images, text, and buttons ended up in one view. ‘Twas not pretty.
While a somewhat boring gameplay experience, SameGame is beautiful. Designer Tim Davies has made this an absolute joy to look at. When the menu system works, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The gameplay gems are shiny, dimensional, and look like they are lit from within.
Also of note, the gems randomly shine and twinkle, as if a light is also moving around them. The menus also transition quite well, and the background gem animations are quite nice. The only graphical complaint I have is the fact that the alert popups are not custom. It detracts from the look of the whole game when the menu system looks like it is in the form of popups. There’s simply a lack of continuity in that regard.
SameGame is available for $1.99 on the US App Store, and for localized prices on many others. It is compatible with all devices on firmware 2.0 or later. Interestingly enough, Steven Troughton-Smith’s website does not mention SameGame on his list of applications. You can view some outdated details on his blog.
As an independent developer, Steven Troughton-Smith is very easy to contact and provides excellent support for all of his applications.
Presentation & Graphics:
Graphically, it’s nearly flawless. Presentation-wise, it’s it could use some work on the menu issue.
A bizarre choral ambient track the sounds of popping balloons do not fit the bright colours.
Gameplay & Controls:
It’s very easy to pick up, and the controls are quite nice.
There’s nothing to keep you playing at all.
$1.99 usually yields games that are quite a bit better than this.
SameGame is a beautiful game with a wonderful interface and bright graphics hindered by depressing choral ambient music, and a buggy interface. While it’s easy to pick up, it’s even easier to set down. If you would like to look into SameGame and the creators any further (which I’m sure you are), check out the the websites of Steven Troughton-Smith and Tim Davies.