Building a game around the idea that less is more can get you in trouble. Get things wrong and you can end up with a game that doesn't offer enough to players.
Penku almost manages to successfully follow the template, but it slips at the last few hurdles.
It's a minimalist, loose Tetris clone with its own unique appeal, but it doesn't quite have the chops to become a classic in its own right.Connecting combos
Unlike Tetris, Penku uses a simple combination of twinned square blocks.
You can rotate these rectangles in all four directions with a tap. That allows you to either slot the coloured squares in a particular gap, or align them with similar blocks already placed in the grid.
Ideally, you want to achieve both these outcomes at the same time.
Your goal is to create connected, winding lines of similarly coloured squares. When two of those connected squares contain a star, the sequence is removed.
The bigger the chain, the higher your score. The gameplay is comfortably familiar, and you'll grasp the core concept in no time flat.Blocks at the bottom
Although the squares are connected during the brief time you have to rotate and align them at the top of the screen, if they land at different heights they'll separate and fall into any hole beneath them.
This also goes for blocks that drop after a chain is eliminated, so you can plan ahead and create more combos if you're smart enough.
You move the blocks from side to side with a swipe, rotate them with a tap, and then set them on their descent. Take too much time, and they drop wherever they are.
The controls seem simple, but they aren't particularly effective. Taps often seem to go ignored, and swipes can register as a command to drop the blocks into place.
As the game gets quicker the unresponsive controls mean it's far too easy to make annoying mistakes.
It's a shame, because Penku is a decent addition to the block-removing puzzle niche. It's a tad forgettable, perhaps, but its presentation is clean and appealing, and its gameplay is accessible.
But those loose controls mean you'll spend more time frustrated than having fun.