Triple Town - Cloning for a good reason

Developers usually complain about app discoverability - too many app for just a few visible App Store slots. Some new apps can go completely under radar unfairly while others make the news for the wrong reasons. This is the case of Spry Fox's latest creation, which was covered extensively by my Twitter peeps and gaming sites as it's decided to take 6Waves Lolapps to court over a series of similitudes with their own Yeti Town. The story caught my interest and I decided to download it and see what makes the game so good to be copied. 

Triple Town [iTunes Link] by Spry Fox is a static match-three puzzler where you combine elements of the same type until you run out of moves. The basic 6x6 grid represents a portion on land that you're in charged of developing. The goal is to use an almost unlimited amount of basic supplies to end up with a decent size city with it's houses, churches and trees. 

And the logic used here is not apparent from the tutorial but you get the hang of it before you end your first level. The learning curve involves getting familiar the items and their functions, which isn't what you would normally expect. As a side note, the clone game uses a different - equally weird - theme. First is the grass. Plain, simple common grass transforms into a bush combined with two other grass patches. In  the same way, three bushes combined created a tree, and three trees a house. A house? Well, it's more like a hut made out of wood if that makes more sense.

The simple rule of combining items clears land, allowing you to place more items - normally grass - to continue with combinations. The level finishes when you run out of space, so planning and thinking two or three steps ahead is key. To make the task easier, there are a number of special items that drop from time to time. Crystals have the ability to substitute any item, behaving like a Joker in a card game. Imperial bots remove any unwanted item from the grid, something like removing a card from the table. 

All this hard work is often spoilt by giant wild bears, the biggest threat to your growing village and its expansion plans. These bears move around through the empty slots on your grid, making impossible to place whatever item is coming next. You have the option to eliminate them blocking their path, but they'll take space turning into a gravestone. Matching three gravestones gets you a church, and three churches a cathedral that is worth a lot of points.

Designed with Facebook gaming audiences in mind, Triple Town doesn't fall into the obnoxious freemium trap. This is calm relaxed time wasting like your old Solitaire.

The goal of the game is to score high and obtain coins. Those coins buy you any item at any given time from the shop - a bit like cheating. As a free-to-play game, the coins can be purchased with real money via in app purchase, but they're optional and I don't think they add anything to the gameplay. In any case, they just make the levels less challenging since you are tempted to get the most suitable item from the shop. There is however, a not so nice monetisation model - the drug dealer type - since you get a very generous amount of turns to start with but you have to play for those once you run out and are hooked.

What I thought was a very simple game turned into hours of fun and frustration trying to master techniques and learning with every town built. It's sad that I learned about the game for being involved in legal disputes, but I'm extremely happy I did, as I tend to avoid free games that come with purchasable content. As you can see I'm not versed on Facebook or browser games.

Don't let the strict rules stop you from trying. I believe the concept could be based on a card game that I remember from childhood and it shares that slow intricate strategy and planning of solitaire and its derivations. Triple Town is not your typical App Store time killer nor the obvious Bejeweled match-three game. I specially recommend it for those looking for slow paced entertainment, card and simple board games.