Tinker with some Teriffically Tricky Towers
I have been accidentally referring to Tricky Towers as “Tumble-y Towers” since its debut as a free PSN Plus game for the month of August. No, “tumble-y” is not a word but if it was it would describe these titular towers terrifically. At any moment they may tumble, crushing your dreams while giving your friends a joyous laugh until moments later when their own towers comes crashing down under the ever spiteful will of digital gravity. This is where the fun comes from with Tricky Towers, armed with Tetris blocks it’s a fight against man’s most basic enemy: gravity. Tricky Towers excels as a party game but manages to be interesting as a puzzle game despite being a tad shallow.
Tricky Towers does a good job of explaining itself as soon as you see the title screen. On top of the title rests one S shaped Tetris piece at a 45 degree angle. Using the familiar suite of Tetris blocks you’re tasked with building a tower in a world where the blocks have weight and gravity effects their placement. You’re given a platform to place your blocks on and if the placement of a block doesn’t quite balance it can fall off the platform or, potential even worse, it could wedge itself at an angle that will destroy any traditional Tetris style tower you were working on. Now the tower’s at an angle, tilting and swaying wildly, blocks are sliding off into the abyss and a frantic panic begins to salvage some semblance of a stable tower.
This is when pure joy takes over and Tricky Towers really shines. Even playing against strangers online it’s hilarious and relatable to glance over at a competitor’s tower and see it start to sway before crashing down to half its height as they slam new blocks on top of it in a reckless shamble. The nice part about this is that you’re next. Your tower is going to eat just as much shit and then the roles will be reversed and the universe will be balanced. Of course eventually someone is going to win but it will probably be because of a lucky power-up or by the will of the gods and because of this losing can be just as fun. When you win it feels like skill, when you lose the blame is passed to lady luck. It feels good to steady your tower and continue building upwards on top a crooked L block, it introduces a hurdle that can be as big or small as you allow it to be.
The challenges you’re tasked with fall into three categories with each having slight differences depending on if you’re playing by yourself or in multiplayer. There are races where you compete to build a tower reaching a certain height before your competitors do or before a timer runs out in single-player, puzzles where you stack as many blocks as possible under a certain height or a predetermined number in single player, and survival mode where you stack a set number of random blocks where every fall your tower takes removes one of your three lives all while your competitors are flinging power-up at you.
Single player presents 50 challenges broken into 5 tiers which can get pretty difficult after the 2nd tier. About half of the challenges are of the puzzle variety which makes sense in a single player context but they can get pretty tiresome after multiple tries on the same puzzle. This isn’t because the solutions are obtuse or unintuitive it’s that the process of retrying a puzzle requires to you try over and over without having a lot of time to think it through. If you fail you start over. Maybe you like the placement of the first four pieces, well, you place them again and then try something new with the fifth. That doesn’t work? Start over, replace those first four and try again. All of the incoming pieces are shown, in order, on the right side of the screen but it’s not always going to be feasible to plan every move out in advance and if your plan doesn’t work some trial and error will be in order.
Tricky Towers works best as a multiplayer game more in the vein of Mario Kart than anything else. The environment is against you and the player behind you is about to drop a literal piano on your tower. It's random without much reliance on skill which makes losing as entertaining as winning. With only three challenge types it could become tiresome especially if you don't particularly enjoy one of them but Tricky Towers is a perfect game to hop into for a few rounds which could quickly turn into an hour or two.