Commuting Cognition: Unlucky 13

What is this?

I’ve never been a big mobile game player, but I ended up working in a mobile games company (opinions are my own etc), so I’ve been trying to expose myself to more games in this market and attempt to gain an ever-better understanding of them. One of the ways I’ve been doing that is in trying out new games, seeing what they do wrong and right, and try to draw conclusions from them that I can use in the future to make our games better. One of the resources I’ve been using for this is TouchArcade (not sponsored), and their columns listing the new iOS games of the week.

This resulted in me playing a lot more new games during my daily bus rides, but I also feel the need to discuss them somewhere and keep a log of my thoughts instead of just internalising them. So, Commuting Cognition. These will be brief, bus-ride-long thoughts on these games, and should be seen less as reviews and more as first impressions. They also may not be daily, depending on how full the bus is that day.

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Unlucky 13

Unlucky 13 is a puzzle game where you place coloured pieces on a board, with the intent to fill lines to clear them. Curiously, you’re trying to avoid placing too many blocks of the same colour together (13, to be precise), but you get rewarded for clearing lines with big same-colour clusters, so there’s a risk/reward mechanic at play.

You’re given two pieces at a time and must place both of them in any order before being given two more. The unusual piece formats are hard to get used to. I guess that was also the case when we first played Tetris, but at least there was some consistency at work there: every piece is made out of 4 tiles, and all the tiles are joined together. Here the pieces you get can go anywhere from a single tile, to a cluster of six tiles, to two single tiles separated by two spaces. This makes it very difficult to plan ahead, especially because you can’t see the incoming pieces. These decisions were probably made to push the piece shuffler, which discards your two pieces and gives you two new ones at the cost of watching an ad (once) or paying, so it feels like a case of monetisation hurting gameplay. That’s not to say the game is bad, as it is quite enjoyable, but the sore point remains.

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