Ever since Threes! hit the market, it quickly soared to become one of everyone’s favorite puzzle games, including me. It also ushered in a new wave of games that used this sliding mechanic, such as SideSwype. When I first heard about Joinz, I was pretty excited because it took this sliding puzzle mechanic to the next level by adding in a Tetris twist — who doesn’t like both Threes! and Tetris?
To top things off, when I saw that Game Brain (Pop to Save) was working with Noodlecake Studios (Super Stickman Golf 2), my expectations of the game peaked. After spending some time with the game, I can say that this was well worth the wait.
The visuals in Joinz are simple yet elegant. The game has a flat look and feel to it, so it fits in naturally with the iOS 7 and 8 aesthetics. The colored blocks are bright and vibrant, so they stand out nicely against the dark blue-gray background color that is throughout the game. The animations are smooth and fluid as the blocks slide around, merge together, and get cleared out from the grid. The ambient music is soothing, and the sound effects are delightful to hear.
There’s only one game mode in Joinz, but that’s all you need since it’s endless. The goal is to create the “tetris-like” shapes that are shown at the top of the screen with the colored blocks on the grid. In order to do this, you need to slide around these blocks with your finger. You can merge adjacent like-colored blocks by sliding your finger over them to connect them. The shapes must be made of like-colored blocks, and each time you don’t make a match, a new square appears on the board.
It may sound a bit confusing, but if you’ve played Threes!, then you should get the gist of it. It’s similar to that, except you are creating the shapes that you normally find in Tetris.
The more shapes you make, the more points you will earn. Along the bottom, there is a progress bar that shows you when you will receive a free power-up item on the board, which is determined by your points. Once you reach a marker on the gauge, then a gift box shows up on the board, and you can tap it to choose the power-up you want to receive. These power-up items will help you get rid of unwanted blocks on the board and even get combos (consecutive matches) to boost your score.
A game in Joinz ends when the board fills up with non-matching shapes and blocks. You get points for these based on how large they are, and they get added to your total. This game may sound easy, but it’s pretty difficult.
Of course, just like with the Threes! wave, you’ll want to get a little competitive with your friends with Joinz. Fortunately, there is Game Center integration for local and global leaderboards, but unfortunately there aren’t any achievements. Another option is to link up your Facebook account. Still, this could be the next craze among your friends, so the leaderboards are nice to have.
I had been looking forward to Joinz for a while, so I’m definitely loving the game so far. It’s the perfect mix of puzzle and strategy, and it’s endless, so I can lose hours to this game. The visuals are beautiful, the music is lovely, and the gameplay mechanic is unique.
If you’re a fan of strategic puzzle games, or just loved Threes! and Tetris, then this is the perfect game for you. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the genre. You can get Joinz on the App Store as a universal app for $1.99.