Sid Meier is often quoted regarding his stance towards an enjoyable game dynamic. For him, the play needs:
“an understandable and enjoyable stream of decisions.”
Reading a recent interview I was reminded again of the wisdom of this statement, proven not least by an impressive catalogue of well recieved games.
However, I am not so sure it needed to keep him within the turn-based genre typical of the majority of his games. It is possible to engage the play with decisions within a real-time interacting environment.
Back in the day, when Civilisation was a twinkling in Meier’s eye, a little game on the original Gameboy introduced a decision based puzzle game that captured the imagination of many gamers. Together with Nintendo Tennis and Super Mario Land, this formed one part of a killer trilogy in the early days of the platform.
Nintendo’s excellent repackaged and updated version for the DS provides a modern rendering of Meier’s gaming vision, all be it in a very different way. The ever descending blocks provide the player with a stready stream of decision-encounters. Extended play uncovers ever increasing nuances to each decision. As a game deveops each decision affects the other as the simple play mechanic takes hold.
The experience and enjoyment of the game grows as the player needs to learn how to make wiser and quicker decisions. They find themselves honing their ability on many levels to imrpove their chances of survival:
Dead brick technique: How efficiently they can deal with bricks that don’t fit anywhere. They correct decision being the spot where they will case the least dissruption, and hopfully play with the next few bricks to cancel out any detrimental affect.
Start-tris: Key in the mutli-player mode. How quickly can they set-up and trigger a four row clear (tetris), and put the other player on the back foot. This demands both a tidy and quick use of blocks.
Clean up play: How quickly can you elliminate broken lines, after missplaced or dead bricks.
Look ahead: How efficient is their brick management, considering the bricks that are flagged up in the preview tiles.