Bricks falling from the sky, magical manipulations…
99 Bricks, from indie developer WeirdBeard, is a fitting name for a game that has you fumble around Tetris style brick pieces that stack to create a tower that is on the brink of collapse.
You play as an apprentice wizard who is learning to control bricks in order to become mastered in manipulation. Beyond the occasional mini voice bubble pop ups, you have in general no control over this character.
The game has you start with a simple base (and sometimes impossible looking) at the bottom of the screen and you must use this to build your tower. As in Tetris, you have a few mere seconds to rotate in 90 degree increments and position the falling bricks, ideally trying to fit them smoothly together to optimize space and strength in the tower as it grows. All bricks stay where they land, so a misplacement can lead to a misalignment, awkward balance of bricks or even complete collapse of the tower.
One nice feature in the game, is that if you reach a height threshold, it automatically cement styles your bricks in the tower, thus eliminating some of the instability and perhaps give you a chance to regain control of the buildup of your tower.
If you lose more than three pieces off the tower, the game round is over.
Each round ends with you topping off your tower with a unique roof and then the game totals your height in meters.
As you play through the game, you will earn coins for each brick you successfully stack and based on your final height. These can be used to purchase various items in the in-app store including magic spells that affect the bricks (turn to cement or gold), or wand style or robe styles. While the wand and robe changes don’t appear to make much difference in the gameplay and are more about changing up the image of your character, the magic spells help to increase stability of your tower or increase in coin counts.
The magic spells availability is rare in the game and one spell will randomly appear as a blue floating mana orb in a game round, and you never know which one you are going to get. Once you have it, it will show up on your screen, but use it wisely. You start with 3 mana in your pool, but if you don’t strategize correctly, they can be used up quickly.
To add to the complexity of the game, at times an “enemy” wizard will appear to try and cause havoc to your tower by manipulating pieces that are falling. Such things as causing a piece to grow 10x its size as it falls towards your tower, or causing a piece to not be able to be rotated or positional moved by you. You can “zap” these enemies away before they can cause trouble, but to this you must use up 1 mana in your pool. Due to this, you have to try and decide if its worth it to use a mana or just take on the manipulation and try to keep your tower from collapsing.
The game is constantly causing you to rethink strategy, including figuring out how to extend width by overhanging pieces while maintaining tower stability, and how to get the tower taller than last time.
The achievement layout for the game is quite interesting. Each level is set up like a class, such as Basicology or Economitry and in order to pass one and move onto another you must complete enough of the various goals to earn the required amount of stars delegated to the class. Stars are earned by completing a tasks such as “Use a magic spell 3 times” or “Reach a height of 600m”. After completing enough goals to unlock the next class (and essentially receive your apprentice seal in the class), the Master seal is unlocked and is available to play. Master seals have much more difficult goal requirements for stars and more stars needed to complete the seal.
Each you start up the game, it give you the option to pay the $3.99 cost to remove ads, or else every time a new round starts you will have to sit through a mini ad in game. While these can be annoying at times, it’s a personal choice on in-app purchases. Other than this, there are no other in-app purchases.
This game is a great time waster, and is actually sort of addicting in the way that it constantly is challenging you to try and do better every time and get a taller tower or to try harder to complete a goal. Achievement seeking type gamers will achieve this kind of game. While the graphics are very basic and cartoonish, it doesn’t take away from the game experience. The game controls are smooth, except for trying to access the pause or reset/quit menu as it is awkwardly placed in the upper corner. Overall it is a great game to download and play, especially if you enjoy a challenge and even more if you love Tetris style brick building.