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When you begin a game of Stickets, the emptiness of its 5x5 grid is a vast expanse of possibility. You have four shapes, all L-blocks made up of three squares each. These squares alternate in color between three set tones, with the palette randomly ordered. Each L-block, unable to be rotated, can be placed anywhere on the screen as long as there’s room to accommodate its shape, and when placed it plays an ambient tone. Once on the grid, the block is replaced with one of a different color arrangement, with the same rotation. Your sole objective: Make three or more squares of the same color touch so you can clear them from the board. There’s no timer, and the only score is the number of moves you manage to rack up.
What do you do?
Maybe this sounds silly, because minimalist design isn’t by nature necessarily complicated. How could placing blocks on a grid be that complex? The answer is a total lack of forgiveness. You may have four shapes to work with at any given time, but they’re distressingly inalterable. Too often you’re likely to find yourself backed into a corner, nearly your entire grid filled with only one or two more moves to play, just to find that the space you can fill on the grid won’t connect, say, a five or six-square shape of a certain color.
Other times, a required color will be in the wrong place on all four blocks, creating a devious catch-22: A three-square block takes up a lot of space on a relatively small grid, and you can’t afford to make a bad move. Yet if the only way to get another block with different palette arrangement is putting one on the grid, you don’t have much recourse. It’s hard to deny the allure of simply trying to gather as much of a color as possible, but Stickets requires a lot more deliberation. And just when you think you’ve bested it, new modes come along that make the initial design look like cake – it’s almost like that soothing soundscape is mocking you.
The bottom line. Stickets looks deceptively simple, but, well, there’s the rub. Brilliant.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Elegantly simple design. Wonderful aesthetics. Deceptively difficult.
Blocks can be a little slippery when being placed. May tax your brain more than you'd like.