In the 90’s, I played so much Tetris on the Gameboy that I used to dream about blocks coming down from the sky in Colchester. I would see them everywhere; in my Nan, the dog and driving somewhere – the roads would be clogged up with them, it was a nightmare. There is something so genius back then in devising a compelling, highly addictive game that basically is a moving jigsaw puzzle. So, Anode is using as an influence the structure of the most famous game of all time, and creating a whole new twist on the way it’s played. But will it make me dream once again of multi-coloured blocks?
The game is set on a space station hovering above a planet for some strange reason. It’s a backdrop only though; there’s no story mode in this game or hidden narrative. Anode is a skill-based game like the big T game and its many more clones since. Different coloured blocks fall from the sky and you have to stack them in a neat manner before you stack too high and reach the top of the screen, thus ending the game. In this game, which is a kind of mix of Candy Crush as well, the blocks are different colours which are key to you getting points and keeping the stack low. The game’s ethos is to link your entire coloured block together horizontally, vertically and diagonally, and then when a flashing bomb block of that colour comes into the fray, you can destroy the related blocks in an almighty combo. Clear?
I think I’m making it sound more complicated than it really is, but that’s Anode in a nutshell. The pace of the blocks coming down does get faster and clearing the stacks does get trickier and much harder as you progress, but that’s all there is to it. There are powerups to collect the more you progress and you can combine colours with a special bridging block, but personally I could never successfully work that out.
What it does give you is loads of different modes to enhance your playing experience. Firstly, you have the endless mode which is the game mode where you can go on and on to infinity if you so please. There’s a levelling up system in place meaning the better you do, while keeping your nerve, the progress will continue to be tracked constantly. Should that not be your thing, there’s the time attack mode where you can put in the time you want to compete against and try to achieve that target. Alternatively, mission mode sets you targets to achieve as you play through the levels. These range from getting an 8-block combination to just achieving a certain number of points in a given time. This was my favourite mode, as it really felt like I was doing something different and rewarding as well as being fun.
There is also a local multiplayer mode which you can pit your skills against a friend or family member. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any friends or family members who showed any interest in doing this and the dog had trouble holding the controller, so I’m afraid this mode went untested. The standard online leaderboards are present for you to compare your score with the world and try to become the best. An online mode where you play against strangers would have been a welcome addition to give this game an extra edge I think, but you have to go with what you get.
Gameplay wise, it’s a pretty steady ship for this type of game and works very well. On the negative side there are times when I felt the controls slip, suddenly releasing too many blocks at the same time and they’re all stacking to the ceiling. Graphically the game is what you expect it to be. The look and tone is clear, concise and practical, without being too flashy. There is a nice backdrop and the colours really zip off the screen, and the text design is sharp. Sound and music is a real treat; nice tunes and the sound effects are spot on. All these elements combine to make an effective, fun and functional package, without being groundbreaking.
This all sounds well and good, but is it worth you getting? I hear you crying out in anticipation of an answer. Well the short answer is yes, it’s currently four dollars in the USA, and so if that price comes over here at under £5 then it’s definitely worth a punt. The long answer is there is nothing new going on in this game and it’s just another retro inspired skill game. If that’s not your bag then look away now please, there is nothing to see here. But if you’re thinking about delving in for a quick skill game that’s cheap, with many different modes and you love those old action puzzle games, you could do a lot worse.