Santa's Tower Bloxx 3D

As pumpkins, vampire and witch costumes and boxes of fireworks are swept off the shelves, it can mean only one thing: Christmas! To celebrate, the programming elves over at Digital Chocolate have evolved one of the company's most valued franchises – Tower Bloxx – with a wintry breath of addictive fresh air that refines mobile gaming to astoundingly enjoyable basics.

As players of the mobile classic will already know, the one-thumb gameplay begins with you laying the ground floor of an apartment block, hitting the button to release a porta-cabin from the swinging line of a crane. Subsequent floors are then winched in, each swinging more widely than the last, and it's up to you to release the building block at just the right moment to land it square on top of the highest floor.

This remarkably intuitive single-button control system turns Santa's Tower Bloxx into a rhythm test. Hesitate, and the crane drops the block automatically, while haste on your part causes a precarious piling of pied-à-terre. And as the tower gets higher the crane swings with ever greater force. Practised thumb control quickly becomes an essential skill.

Extra points are awarded for lining up your tower accurately, though with careful placement an irregular structure can remain standing long enough to drop the roof into position. The more uneven this edifice becomes, the more it sways in the bitter Christmas breeze, making assembly of the tower increasingly hazardous.

So far, so Tower Bloxx you may be thinking. Where's the Christmas bit?

Well, while this construction is occurring, homeless elves parachute into the building (no jokes, please – Santa's listening and there's still plenty of room on the naughty list), populating the apartments according to the quality of the build.

Well-positioned flats will receive more itinerant imps than precariously placed ones, thereby increasing the population of your winter wonderland. This, in turn, boosts your overall score as you attempt to construct an entire city block from residential apartments, commercial buildings, industrial units and luxury blocks – each progressively higher than the last.

A wonderful and unexpected element of strategy then comes into play as you situate your completed tower blocks on the city grid; attempting to achieve the maximum overall occupancy possible. To make things even more intricate, the different types of building can only be positioned in a certain order, so town planning becomes an aspect of the gameplay that's every bit as absorbing as the perilous construction.

The clean and uncluttered graphics make Santa's Tower Bloxx 3D a joy to play, while the dark winter skies and lonely snowflakes hanging in the freezing air add a dash of festive atmosphere. Coupled with the harmonic chiming of Christmas bells, it's impressive how a game that essentially has nothing to do with the holiday season can instil such a feeling of fun and festivity.

This superb, single-handed title manages to capture the vital essence of mobile gaming, from two minutes of casual escapism to an evening's worth of battery-draining obsession. So if you find this in your stocking, rejoice.

Santa's Tower Bloxx 3D

Even if you're already a Tower Bloxx player, grabbing this festive edition is well worthwhile
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