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Mobile Game of the Week: Triple Town

By Huel Fuchsberger

The sound of the forest, mumbling citizens and angry but cute bears, those are familiar things to the aspiring majors in the social game Triple Town. Developer Spry Fox first released it for the Amazon Kindle in 2010. Limited due to the e-readers specifications, the game had no sound, no colors and was not social, but with an interesting core game mechanic of a ‘Match-3’ puzzle game.

With a slightly new setting and adding a social game esthetic to the presentation; it was released on Facebook and Google+ in October 2011. In January 2012 the success of Triple Town and the demand of the community led to a mobile version of the game for iOS and Android devices. Was this the foundation stone for a social cross-platform experience?

The task in Triple Town is straight forward: Build the biggest town possible. It gives the well known ‘Match-3’ mechanic the twist, which tasks the player to build structure, not destroying it, making it a slower paced high score game.

The town is build by placing object as grass, trees or bushes into a 6×6 field in which some object are already placed. The player can build new structures by matching three of the same objects next to each other, resulting in the merging of the objects in a new one. Those can then be merged in the same manner to better structures. As an example, 3 field of grass result in a bush, 3 bushes in a tree and so on. Higher complexity equals in more points are added to the score.

To spice things up, occasionally the player has to place a bear. Once placed he move around the village and may prevent the player to build the town how he planned it, by simply blocking the spot where he stands. Trapping him with objects so that he can’t move will stop him and turn him into a gravestone, which also can be matched into new structures.  Those bears bring in certain randomness and complicate the construction of the most valuable town possible. The level ends if all fields are occupied. In relation to the score achieved, coins are earned. And this is where the monetization is introduced into the game.

Coin can be used to buy aid in the shop. There the player can buy an object he wishes to place in the field, other than the random one that is given to him. This can make up for mistakes he made in planning his placements. But more important, it can buy him more play time, because the limited resources in Triple Town are his moves.

Moves can be bought in the store or regenerate over time. It is also possible to buy unlimited moves as an In-App purchase. Surprisingly friend interaction that rewards with moves or coins is missing – except achievements and the game center rankings. And more things are missing.

In comparison to the Flash version on Facebook the mobile version lacks all social implementations.
All social features as weekly ranking, sharing options for high scores and gift sending are absent in the mobile version. In the Flash version the player also moves from town to town on a campaign map, facing new challenges and presets, as smaller field or towns with no bears. On mobile only three additional levels are available for purchase. The mobile game and the Facebook version are completely separate from each other. Triple Town misses the opportunity to give the player a long time motivation. After the a few rounds, when the appeal of presentation is fading and he gets the feeling he saw everything, he will most certainly not come back for more. If they are no true puzzle fan, there little that keeps players coming back.

Spry Fox  LogoIn conclusion Triple Town is not as greater on mobile as it is on Facebook or Google+ and no social cross-platform game. The two versions are in no relation to each other. Playing one version won’t lead the player to play the other. For the mobile version the simple game play with a sense of depth is not enough keep a player playing over a long time period – at least not in this target g