Game Reviews

Joinz

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Joinz
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| Joinz

Although this very site called Joinz "a mix of Threes! and Tetris," during play it more obviously resembles old DOS game Color Lines.

The major difference here is that instead of having you fashion long lines, you're instead faced with constructing shapes akin to those from Tetris.

Simplez startz

Initially, it's all very simple. An orange tile appears. You flick it and it slides until hitting a screen edge, and then another orange tile shows up in a random position elsewhere. Slide two tiles together and they join and can be moved as one.

Do some expert tile-sliding and match one of the three shapes at the top of the screen, and your merged tiles disappear, enabling you to be smug for a few seconds.

You'll probably stop being smug when one of two things happens. The first of these is when new colours show up. One extra colour is actually quite helpful, because you can use individual tiles to block spaces that another coloured shape can be built around.

But when you've three or more colours on the go, you have to be extremely careful to not get yourself into a situation that's akin to a traffic jam crossed with a Mondrian.

Itz getz complicatedz

The other decidedly non-smug moment is when the game starts hurling more complicated shapes at you, moving on from two-by-two squares to constructions that appear to have crawled out of a Tetris cartridge that got caught in radioactive sewerage and acquired semi-random extra 'limbs'.

You do at least get a little assistance on your journey, in the form of gift boxes which appear when you've managed to score enough points. (A little level meter at the foot of the screen shows when the next will appear.) The way in which these are implemented adds quite a bit of strategy, too.

Boxes can be left as long as you like, and used as blocking tiles. When you decide to use one, you choose a power-up from a list, and available items depend on your current score.

You always have access to a 'bomber', which blows up whatever shape it's slid into, and for 50 points, you can access a laser, which obliterates the entire row and column it's positioned on.

There are eight power-ups in all, maxing out at the target shape refresher, which becomes available when you've over 2000 points.

Reallyz quitez goodz

One thing that's absent in Joinz, however, is the kind of simplicity and elegance Threes! and Tetris have in spades. In trying to do more, Joinz eventually gets itself in a bit of a tangle.

You end up in a situation where you're faced with almost impossible challenges that painfully and slowly grind you to an inevitable standstill.

The game isn't intelligent enough to see when you're several moves from an end and have no way out, forcing you to play every move while wearing your glum face.

Despite this grumble, and some curious translations of the power-up capabilities (top tip: 'solves' actually means ‘breaks apart), Joinz is a decent-spin on a done-to-death formula. It's not quite a Threes!, but it does have enough underlying strategy to reward repeat play.

Joinz

Yet another tile-slider, but one that manages to do something a bit different. Engaging, if a bit complicated for its own good at times
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