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Tetris has been all the rage since, well, whenever it came out, as far as I can tell. The classic block-dropping game has an official Android port and a free, ad-supported version, but what are we to do if we're looking for the next iteration of the Tetris paradigm? Something more flashy, something more razzle-dazzle, but most importantly, something more fresh? For that, ladies and gentlemen, I have to put my support behind Puzzle Prism.
Puzzle Prism uses the same concept of stacking blocks that Tetris does, but instead of a 2D plane, you're trying to stack shapes in a 3D tower (that happens to be a rectangular prism, as towers are wont to be). Because you've got a whole other dimension to work with, you can not only rotate the pieces you're using, but you can also flip them upside down, too.
The controls are pretty straightforward; swipe left and right to rotate a piece, swipe up to flip it upside down, and swipe down to send it careening down towards the tower. Chances are you'll accidentally send a few pieces down when you meant to flip them initially, but once you've played a few rounds, manipulating blocks will feel like second nature.
There's four game modes, of which I've unlocked only one (Standard). The game tells you the criteria to unlock the next game mode in line, but after that, you're met with a series of question marks, forcing you to unlock the next mode before knowing what other demands will be placed on you to unlock subsequent modes. On the one hand, there's the possibility for intrigue about your unnamed, mystery game modes, but for a planner like myself, it really just frustrates me, not knowing what I have to do.
Gameplay itself is fast and furious, with new blocks appearing as soon as you've sent another down to the tower, but like Tetris, you can always see the next block in line, giving you a few fractions of a second to try and formulate a plan. Adding to the tension is the upbeat, techno/string background music and the fact that the tower is constantly rotating. The rotation is good because it gives you a continuous idea of where holes are (to plug up), but on the other hand, sometimes you can't see the side you're after. And did I mention the piece you're going to drop rotates with the tower, too?
Puzzle Prism tracks things like how many lines into the game you survived, what your max combo was, and of course, your score, but there's also a cleverly designed trophy system for those folks who just have to have a bit more to reel them in. There's 88 trophies in all, and just like the game modes menu, you can see some goals you've yet to accomplish, but most are shrouded in the Cloak of Question Marks.
My one peeve with Puzzle Prism is that it isn't optimized for tablets (it looks alright, but you can tell it's definitely stretched out), but it absolutely shines on a phone. That's not to say you can't play it on a tablet, but I definitely wouldn't mind seeing an HD version come out, especially if it's just automatically bundled as a single app purchase.
If you're looking for a new mind-bending, block-tossing puzzler, Puzzle Prism is it. With four game modes, 88 trophies, a near-frenetic soundtrack, and a new take on an old favorite, this is a game for just about everyone. It's easy to learn yet difficult to master, and that's why you'll find yourself coming back to it again and again (and again and again).
Puzzle Prism is 99 cents in the Android Market. We've got download links after the break.
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