Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: Color Tangled for iPhone and iPad

Color Tangled is a good example of how the App Store is being ruined by bad business models. For each one of the creatively original games that I review on this blog, there are... hundreds? thousands? of unoriginal lookalikes. And I'm not just talking about the current flood of Flappy Bird clones, nor of the apparently endless flow of reskins of Flow Free. This is a pervasive problem, and it's often not easy for the customer to understand what's going on.
I like graph transport puzzles, and there is a good selection of them on the App Store. Subway Shuffle and Sky Scramble, for example, are excellent choices based on original ideas. Color Tangled is based on a much simpler idea, but it would still be fun.

The goal is simply to move each stone to the area of the same color. There is exactly one empty area, and the only moves you can make consist of moving a stone into that area by travelling along a line.
You can think of this as a generalisation of the 15 puzzle, if you like. I'm not sure where the idea comes from, but it's likely to be pretty old. It is simple enough that it's one of the puzzles you can find as minigames in larger games; without looking too far, the recenty released The Voyage contains some of these:
The main problem with this app is the poorly designed and slow user interface. It was written in Flash, so it is easy to port to any mobile device, but its performance is very poor.

To add insult to injury, the game has a bug so that level 35 (out of 36) is unsolvable:
note that there are TWO orange stones, and no dark green one.

Now for the interesting part: the source code is on sale on ActiveDen (simply called "Tangled") so anyone can buy the rights for as low as $10 and put it on the App Store. Color Tangled is actually unusual, because it is a paid app. Usually, the business model involves making the game free but filling it to the brim with ads (preferably in such a way that it's easy to tap them by mistake). See Color Slide Puzzle for an example: same game, different "publisher", free, full of unskippable Vungle video ads.

Avoid; and stay alert.


©2014 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and nontrivialgames.blogspot.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2 comments:

Raf Peeters said...

Hi Nicola,

It also looks very similar to Leaping Lizards, a puzzle game published by Thinkfun in 2000.

http://www.ageofpuzzles.com/Projects/LeapinLizards/LeapinLizards.htm

Nicola Salmoria said...

Thanks Raf, well spotted! This is probably the source. Though the app contains less challenges, and also contains many with fewer pegs (3 to 5) while Leapin' Lizards seems to be limited to 6 from the pictures I've seen.