Is it really impossible to reinvent a classic puzzle game such as Tetris? Well, probably not - at heart, you're still building blocks. But can you innovate within the original formula and produce new ways to see the classic structure of the original? Sure you can. And RoboSockets: Link Me Up does so expertly. If you have even a passing interest in puzzle games, you're not going to want to miss this one.
If you have any love in your heart for retro game stylings, RoboSockets is going to capture your hearts right out of the gate. This is a very cute game. At the beginning, you'll be given the task of saving the Robocivilization by passing through a series of levels and joining them together to build energy. You don't really need a plot for a game like this, but it sure does give it a bit of charm.
Levels are played vertically, but instead of falling blocks, you have falling robots. Each robot has its arms configured differently, so some have arms on all four sides, while some only have one. Your task is to link the arms together as you place them. Once you link five or more, they will explode and fall off the boards. Place them well, and you can trigger more combos after the first ones fall, accumulating more points for your total score. As you progress, you will meet other types of robots too, like the useless robot with no arms who does nothing (you'll have to maneuver around that useless hunk of junk).
Of course, there aren't just robots to contend with. Moving through the early levels, you'll be introduced to new types of items that can assist you as you play. One is a little rocket bomb you can drop to get rid of any one robot. Another is a drill which allows you to take out a whole row (and kudos to Tatem Games for sticking in a reference to popular Gainax anime Gurren Lagann in the drill's introduction scene, that earned a real smile from the anime fans on our staff). Later down the line, you can earn a grenade you can set off to selectively take out a few bots, which comes in pretty handy as the action speeds up.
At the end of each level, you'll have the built in option to share your score on Facebook right there in the app. RoboSockets is also GameCenter compatible with GameCenter and features a nice list of achievements to unlock, so you can keep an eye on leaderboards and keep busy with additional challenges. And once you finish story mode, you can take on challenge modes such as Arcade Mode and Time Attack Mode. Speaking of story mode, you will also unlock little "Roboevolution facts" as you complete the levels, which will tell you the story behind the Robocivilization. You can totally skip this if you want, but we were impressed by the attention to detail here, making a great game that much better.
Do yourself a favor: stop reading this and pick up your iPhone or iPad and get RoboSockets right now. Your mad puzzle skills could be the future of Robocivilization for all you know.
April 20, 2011