NYCC Hands-On Impressions: Motley Blocks, Wizardlings, QwirkleNovember 4, 2012
Square Enix’s NYCC showing for upcoming mobile games was lacking.
While in the Square Enix press room at New York Comic Con, we had an opportunity to get our hands on playable demos for upcoming mobile titles Motley Blocks, Wizardlings, and Qwirkle. These titles were not featured at the NYCC showroom booth and don’t have determined release dates yet. These will all be available for a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android, and Facebook. Without further ado, here are our impressions.
This is another puzzle game about to enter the foray of the already-congested arena of mobile games. Its object is to connect the dots of as many same-colored blocks as possible without running into other colored blocks. The longer the line you connect, the more points you get. But the main goal is to get them all before time runs out. The blocks floats around a growing 3D model, forming a rotating sphere which acts as the timer for the game and concludes its run after a couple of revolutions. If, by the time it stops, you manage to gather all the blocks to form the 3D thing within the spinning dervish of multi-colored cubes, it’s off to the next round. If not, then it’s game over. Simple, straightforward gameplay that Square Enix hopes the audience will find addicting.
I don’t really have much patience for waiting room games like this. I find the finger-dragging a little mindless and uninspired. Admittedly, I’m not very good at it. Since the reward ratio for this genre is virtually non-existent (more levels to play isn’t a reward) and I’m not one for time-wasting games, I can think of better things to do. There are a lot of time-wasters out there for the mobile platforms and I think Motley Blocks is going to end up getting lost in the fray.
Not much was known about this game before we entered the press room at NYCC. The only thing research yielded was how Square Enix has copyrighted the name, so I approached this game knowing virtually nothing about what to expect. What I did come across was rather delightful.
I would describe Wizardlings as a move-at-your-own pace dungeon crawler with turn-based combat. The world is contained in 50 colorful maps, littered with monsters, items for spell components, and treasure for your wizard. As you enter a new area, you tap the spaces around you to reveal what’s hidden within them. In the event that the square is inhabited by something to kill, the combat becomes turn-based RPG style where you pick the form of attack. Spells can be cast if you have the required components collected. The resulting animations for spells and monster attacks are cutesy and entertaining. The game also provides you with quests to help guide in your adventures.
This is a refreshing original title from Square Enix that I can actually see myself playing. All too often, games for the mobile platform are reflex-based and can be played without much thought. Wizardlings incorporates characters you can actually care about as you level them. Resource gathering and the crafting of spells split between five categories provide additional depth—something a little hard to come by for mobile gaming.
Qwirkle is like Scrabble. It is a game played with tiles that contain shapes with different colors instead of letters. The goal is to make rows or columns by matching either of the two aspects to score points. This raises the question: Why not just play Scrabble?
It is possible I am not the right demographic for this game. However, I enjoy Scrabble along with all sorts board games and expected to like this game too. There are regular gaming nights I attend with friends and family and board games are often the centerpiece of the table. So, I found it very disappointing how Qwirkle did not resonate with me. Perhaps it was how I played against a computer instead of other humans. There are multiplayer options to the game, either by sharing the iOS device or online. Maybe the demo should’ve been set up with a more social atmosphere in mind. It might’ve worked then.
I like to think that I’m a person who picks up rules to a game quickly. While I understood the general premise of the game, the specific rules were confusing and I never quite figured out the restrictions for placing tiles. It was obvious how it was similar to being unable to put down a tile if it doesn’t make an acceptable word, but it just wasn’t working in my brain. It took me a few attempts to finally get something going and I still didn’t quite understand how I scored points. Eventually, I became frustrated with the game and started looking at the other things to play. I predict this game will be a miss for Square Enix as well.
With the exception of Wizardlings, I found the Square Enix offering for mobile platforms during NYCC a little lackluster. There hasn’t been any announced pricing or release dates for any of these games, however I don’t really find myself looking forward to playing them.