At first glance, Trioncube may appear to be a complete Tetris rip-off. Both games do involve arranging falling blocks, but that's where the similarities end. Instead of forming lines, the object of Trioncube is to arrange blocks in 3x3 squares. To succeed, players must keep creating 3x3 groups of blocks as long as possible by adding to the existing mega-block, or "trioncube." (see our preview for a more detailed explanation). The screen clears each time you put down a block that doesn't create a new 3x3 square - which is bad, because you actually want tons of blocks onscreen, unlike Tetris - and higher points are awarded the bigger the trioncube gets.
The story (yes, there's a story, and we use the term loosely) revolves around the captain of a penguin-shaped spaceship who must travel across the solar system to rescue a princess. In the story mode, each level is presented as a mission with a specific goal or theme. For example, the ship might be having engine troubles, so combos break down faster than usual; or the ship might be low on gas and you only have a certain amount of time to complete the mission. Unfortunately, you might as well ignore the mission objectives because they don't really affect the gameplay at all, and therefore don't require you to change your strategy either.
One of Trioncube 's coolest features is the ability to choose different themes and sound effects for the puzzle grid. The blocks can look like little cat faces that meow when you create a combo, or chickens that shoot eggs and cluck. There are also skins inspired by other Namco games (like Xevious, which we've pictured). It's a fun feature, but when choosing the background is the best thing a puzzle has going for it, things aren't looking good.
The pessimistic villain, King Pluto, pops up on the screen after every completed mission to make some "off-the-wall" comment, but after cycling through his remarks a few times it feels like the game is trying too hard to be quirky and ends up missing the mark. Trioncube attempts at variation by including things like Pluto's quirky comments and the option for customizable art, but more variation in the gameplay is what the game really needs.
Because of this, hardcore puzzle fans will be disappointed with Trioncube's lack of depth. But if all you're looking for is a quick, pick-up-and-play puzzle experience here and there, it's still worth the budget price.