It can't be said enough that the simplest games tend to be the best. Especially on iPhone, where the temptation to create complex applications is strong, keeping things basic and still generating an sense of sophistication is challenging. Topple builds a surprisingly feature-rich game around a simple concept that towers over expectations.
The objective of the game is straightforward: using blocks descending one-by-one from the top of the screen, raise a tower. Following a brief tutorial, you're given nine progressively difficult levels that task you with building block towers of increasing height. Small squares, elongated rectangles, and large boxes make construction a breeze, but it's the assortment of odd shapes that throw things for a loop. L-shaped polygons, triangles, and curved shapes require careful placement to keep your tower from tumbling.
Uneven foundations in the later level also makes tower construction a challenge. In the first few levels you're given a nice even platform to raise your blocks, but angular and curved based require greater prudence. Physics play a role in Topple, particularly when dealing with oddly-shaped foundations. Dealing with the effects of a convex base, for instance, means quickly placing blocks to counterbalance a potential fall. Tilting your phone is another way of tipping the tower in your favor; however, it's a risky proposition since it can potentially backfire through overcompensation.
There's nothing exactly new about Topple considering the idea of stacking blocks into precarious skyscrapers is an age-old game. Yet, this is a simple little application that feels fresh due to the installation of several value-added features. Along with the basic height goal for completing each level, the game presents achievements for reaching a bonus height, completion time, and racking up a high score. Seven other achievements round out the list – all great encouragement to revisit the game. You can even send a challenge email that breaks down your game stats to a friend.
That thoughtfulness combined with the easy going nature of its gameplay makes Topple totally entertaining. It certainly helps that the game looks good, which is noteworthy given its simplicity. Cartoon faces on each of the blocks showcase a range of emotions from pleasure to anger to fear depending on the predicament you put them in. It's a novel touch and showcases the dedication to quality and superior polished invested in the game.
It's not earth-shattering or revolutionary, but Topple is a solid foundation for the new generation of iPhone games that put quality above the desire to make a quick buck.