Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Visual Catalog of Threes! Clones

If you follow gaming news, you have probably read about the big drama spurred by the developers of Threes!, who posted a detailed history of the development of their game, to show how long it took them to create it, compared to how quickly it was copied. It's a very interesting read, especially if you are a game designer, so I'd encourage everyone to take a look at it. Threes might look simple, but the process that bought to its final state was far from simple.
Threes!, released February 6th
The one thing I don't like about this story is how all the attention has been put on 2048, calling it a rip-off of Threes. This post was initially going to be about how I don't agree with that, but attempting to prove my point I turned it into a collection of real clones of Threes, so I'll focus on those for now and talk about 2048 another time.

Threes has simple mechanics, so it's easy to imitate. However, it also has excellent production quality, and that isn't easy to copy. Indeed, none of the clones matches the original. Unfortunately this isn't always obvious from the screenshots.

It's also important to note that none of the clones that I have tried faithfully replicate the mechanics. The most obvious difference is where new cards are spawned. In Threes!, new cards only appear at the end of lines that moved. In most of the clones, they can appear on any line, or even anywhere on the board. This changes the gameplay significantly.

The first clone came from China and appeared very soon, though it went largely unnoticed in the US.
聚三成塔 - 数字三消, released February 21st
Nothing happened for a while, then more clones started appearing. Sometimes changing minor things, like replacing 1 and 2 with 3 and 5, which makes absolutely no difference to the mechanics, except that it allows to piggyback on the "powers of 2" trend. The funny thing is that this clone was released before 2048 became #1 on the App Store.
Eights!, released March 12th
Apparently many people like cats, so somebody tried to use them to modify the theme. But the spirit of Captain Triad remained.
Cat Threes, released March 13th
Replacing 1 and 2 with 2 and 3 doesn't change anything either.
Slide Five, released March 18th
Some clones are more boring than others.
Threeswipe, released March 24th
I guess there's nothing wrong attempting to look like a Flash game.
Threes Free, released April 3rd
Many clones imitate the graphics style of Threes, but failing to replicate the quality of the original art.

Some go for a flat look.
Amazing Threes, released March 31st
Others keep an anonymous 3d look.
3366, released April 3rd
The most blatant ripoff to date is probably this one.
Threes Saga, released April 5th
There are ones with more creative graphics too. Doodle style, for example.
Doodle Threes, released April 3rd
Or borrowing from Pudding Monsters.
Monster Threes, released April 4th
Did I miss some? Most likely! But what's clear with all these games is that they copy very closely the mechanics, and often also the art style, of Threes!.

Next time we'll see what instead happened with 2048.

©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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.