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For: DS

Where's the puzzle?

Product: Trioncube | Developer: Namco Bandai Networks Europe | Publisher: Atari Inc. | Format: DS | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Trioncube DS, thumbnail 1
When it comes to falling block-themed puzzle games, you'd think all bases would be covered by now. During recent years, we've built blocks into solid lines, played with blocks with line symbols on them, shifted blocks into columns that then turned into rockets and flew off into space, and arranged 2 x 2 blocks into bigger blocks while funky music played in the background.

Is there really a gap in the market for Trioncube's 'unique' selling point: organising blocks to create 3 x 3 blocks? Perhaps not, but there could well be for the urge it gives you to keep on keeping on, thanks to a spectacularly generous policy towards 'combo' chain reactions. If only it wasn't so generous, in fact, that the game may well be exhausted before you feel you've even begun…

You see, once you've created your first 3 x 3 wedge in Trioncube by manipulating each falling set of three block shapes, you'll find you have a little more time to start adding extra blocks to the glowing section in order to increase its size, and the number of coins you'll gain when the resultant combo finally disappears. Combos are about as easy to get in Trioncube as they are in a burger joint.

Your reward for all these combos, like in the greedy capitalist world you may play games to escape, are coins. And coins are another incentive to play on. The more coins you get, the more Effects and Arts (or skins, icons and audio to you and me) you can unlock.

On this score, Trioncube really does stand apart. Does playing with a backdrop of sushi rolls, dogs and tambourines sound like fun? Then get coin collecting.

Another encouragement, in respect of the Story mode at least, is the ability of combos to fuel up the interstellar travel of your fat Pingu-style penguin spaceship. This is where Trioncube gets a bit exotic.

As is often the case in these situations, a princess has been kidnapped and you have to successfully play through 45 missions, overcoming numerous beasties as you travel in your penguinship, until you beat Hell Metal (a 'total goth' according to the manual), and finally get the princess home to her King. Alternatively, if you choose the Arcade mode, the aim is to race through eight planets and defeat a dreaded space monster.

It all sounds wonderfully wacky and simple, doesn't it? And, unfortunately enough, it is. Despite the charming anime-style graphics, when it comes to brasstacks gameplay Trioncube errs too far towards the Easy end of the difficulty scale.

Creating 3 x 3 blocks is a relatively simple pursuit, even when dreaded black blocks, which flatly refuse to be part of the start of a chain, are tossed in. But the main problem is, there's practically no risk involved in gunning for the biggest reward you can get. Even once a chain has taken up virtually the entire screen, a mere single block of three dropped into an appropriate gap will make everything disappear, and hand you back a blank slate to start working with.

This means that finishing the various modes on offer (apart from the aptly-named Endless, of course) takes less than a week's worth of commuting trips: lightweight, even considering Trioncube's budget price.

True, there's a head-to-head multiplayer mode, and as you can beam the Download version to the other player, it's a great option if you've got someone to play against. There's no support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for those who don't, though, which is a real shame.

Despite the cute visuals, it's hard to really like the overly simple Trioncube. Because it presents no challenge, you never feel like you're getting any better. When a puzzle game lets you casually drift through entire modes within minutes of picking it up, it's not likely to spend too long in your DS, however many penguin spaceships it features.
Reviewer photo
Chris Pickering | 5 March 2007
A very short-term diversion, Trioncube is for rare puzzle game fans who don't crave a challenge
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