Turnacle iPhone Review

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Remember the Rubik's Clock, that brain-gouging, finger-snapping clumsy mechanical puzzle contraption that ruined many a child's 80s Christmas? Like the Rubik's Magic it was always easier to break than actually solve, but for those with a level of patience to match their dexterity it offered up a challenge even more perplexing than the original iconic Cube.

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Turnacle is a little bit like that, although it favors more thoughtful, logical and experimental solutions to its tantalizing puzzles. The challenge couldn't be simpler - using one-touch controls, rotate a series of circles formed of different color segments in 90 degree increments, so that adjacent circles touch with the same color.

It's easy enough in the early levels where you're faced with just a few of these circles laid out in a horizontal line. A little logical deduction, and analysis of the available colors, leads you to a solution rather quickly. But then later levels introduce a second row, and while one line is easily solved, you then have to accommodate for colors that touch vertically.

The game becomes something of a dance between your own foresight and careful planning, and a necessary process of exploration and refinement. You'll need to backtrack and re-analyze the color combinations whenever you reach a dead-end, constantly tweaking your previous arrangements so as to make more meaningful progress with remaining circles. It should be infuriating, and yet it rarely is, and it's always the mark of a good puzzle game that the more you practice, the deeper an instinct you gain for the strategy involved.

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In the Classic section of the game, you work your way through a choice of beginner, easy, medium or hard arrangements of circles. You're presented with a random selection of ten challenges per round, and the objective is to simply finish the set in the quickest time possible. This randomization not only prevents "cheating", but also gives you a satisfying sense of progress as you master the mechanics of the game just a little more keenly at each attempt.

The Puzzle mode presents a different sort of challenge with its small, medium or large grid varieties. The circles are spread out a little more haphazardly, and there may be gaps between them too. Adjacent colors still need to match, but you'll only have a certain number of turns to solve the puzzle - fortunately there's the option to undo mistakes as you slowly tease out the correct solution.

Turnacle won't be for everyone, and even hardened puzzle gamers may find the game a question of taste. Once you've mastered the underlying strategy, it might also be a rather short-lived experience given the limited number of game modes in this - currently - free title. But even if that turns out to be the case, we still think the experience of this simple puzzler will stay with you for some time to come.

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What's Hot:A very satisfying and elegant puzzler. Randomization keeps the game fresh.

What's Not:Once you've mastered the mechanics as best you can, you'll likely move on to something else.

4.0/5