Retro Puzzler SPL-T Is Even More Stripped Down Than Tetris
Simogo’s retro-chic puzzler SPL-T is driving me mad, one schismatic tap at a time. It’s an unassuming little $2.99 iOS head-scratcher about the halves of things, those things being blank, reducible segments you forge on a vintage monochrome screen that might as well be scraped off a dredged-up, vector-liscious 1970s Tektronix 4010.
It’s definitely entertaining, if that’s the right word, though in the way a Mensa brainteaser or Jim Fixx book might be.
Think low-key, the studio-confessed point being to make it as “timeless” as possible. There’s a little stick figure at the top of the screen that if you rapid-fire tap as I did my first time playing looks like it’s doing jumping jacks: arms up for vertical and out for horizontal. This is SPL-T‘s cutesy way of showing you the future, one line at a time.
Ever doodle a box which you then divided into smaller boxes, in turn dividing those into tinier sections still? It’s a little like that, only in SPL-T you have to alternate between up-down and left-right strokes, which leads to a lot of back and forth and setting things up around the board. That’s coupled with a transformation and tile-matching angle that turns the whole thing into a countdown sequencing conundrum meets Tetris.
Split an area into four or more equally sized cubes or rectangles, for instance, and you’ll form a non-divisible “point block,” each subsection sporting diagonal hash marks and a number. The number reflects the total splits you’ve made, and counts down with each subsequent split. Reach zero, and the block goes poof, allowing what’s above it to descend and freeing space for further cuts and point blocks.
The devil’s in the wrinkles, so if a point block falls, its number halves, reducing its point value, but also accelerating its removal from the board. If you wind up with asymmetric point blocks, say something shaped like the “L” piece in Tetris, you can jam up traffic, preventing other zeroed point blocks from descending. And spatial alternation is key: Put in all verticals or horizontals, and you’ll make it impossible to continue.
Surrounding that’s some characteristic Simogo waggishness. I don’t know that I’d be spoiling anything if I dashed off the “secrets” I’ve discovered, but to be safe, I’ll just say that playing with your mobile device’s accelerometer and gyroscope while SPL-T‘s up unlocks a few easter-eggish novelties. People seem to think there’s more lurking, a meta-story perhaps. That’s probably reaching, but I’ll add this: Check out what happens if you leave one of the tutorial screens untouched for a moment or two.
At heart, SPL-T‘s a high score chaser. Each cut yields one point, but that’s almost a token gesture. The essence of landing on the moon or beyond score-wise lies in crafting and stacking as many point blocks as possible without running out of moves. Mastering this is what’ll separate you from a piddling few thousand points and figures in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.
Given that, I’m surprised Simogo decided to leave out Game Center (and therefore leaderboard) support. Why force players to poke around online forums or video sites to see where the game’s upper echelons lie? Simogo claims it didn’t want to “put any distractions between YOU and SPL-T.” Fair enough, but folks, your game lives on a device that’s intrinsically littered with notifications, pop-ups, dings, buzzes—whatever. Score support in Game Center would have been the least of SPL-T‘s hypothetical nags.
I’ve seen a few worry (or take assurance from the notion) that SPL-T might be a deterministic puzzle, that there’s one golden, perfect solution lying in wait. Simogo seems to be saying otherwise when it writes “We designed SPL-T to be a puzzle that would last forever, and never go out of style.” Decide for yourself on the style point, but I’m reading that as at least a claim to infinite playability, like solving for Pi.
Lord knows I’m not the the guy to ask, though. I’m still having to pull out the stops just to clear five figures.
See original article: