January App Review: Threes!

App: Threes!
Developer: Sirvo
Price: $1.99
Platforms: iOS, Android

Threes! is a game that came out earlier this year, and when it did I immediately began hearing about it.  I listen to a lot of tech podcasts, and it seemed everyone was raving about this game.  For whatever reason, I never actually looked into it until recently.  In fact, it took a T-Mobile store demo to get me hooked.  Once I had seen how unbelievably simple (and wonderfully challenging) the game was, I went ahead and bought it.  Let me just say that it was definitely worth downloading.


Threes! is an easy game to learn.  There are tiles on the screen; swiping in any direction moves all the tiles that aren’t up against one side.  When tiles slide into each other, they start to combine, but only in specific ways.  1 and 2 will add together to create a 3 (see image 2).  After that, numbers only add to their duplicates, 3+3=6, 6+6=12, and so on (see image 3).  (If I did as poor a job explaining that as I thought I did, check out this GIF.)  The challenge is to get ever higher numbers without filling up the board and running out of moves.  Sound easy enough?

Turns out, it gets difficult pretty quickly.  My biggest problem is that I end up having, say, two 12s that are separated, and no easy way to combine them.  The more moves you use to manipulate the card’s positions, the more cards come in, and the more the board fills up.  It’s the perfect mixture of difficult yet simple, vexing yet fun, annoying yet enjoyable.  Like any good puzzle game, Threes! can be frustrating – but only in the best way.

Aside from the actual gameplay, Threes! also has a certain charm to it.  This is accomplished through the little on-screen characters.  Each number is a character of its own, with a unique face and voice.  It’s subtle enough that you can ignore it if you don’t care, but delightful enough that I bet you will.  When you get a new card for the first time (for example, the first time you get a 96 card), the game pauses for a moment and shows you a short bio for the new character.  It’s just enough diversion to be amusing and fun without being distracting.  It’s really quite enjoyable.

Threes! also got some special attention from Apple this year, winning the iPhone Game of the Year award (alongside Monument Valley as iPad Game of the Year).  I think this is well-deserved, and I congratulate the developers on their accomplishment.  Other developers also noticed the popularity of Threes!, however.  There have been multiple knock-off apps, most notably 2048 (which is free).  I’m a big fan of free alternatives, but there is a difference between an alternative and a knock-off.  I was happy to pay $1.99 for Threes! in order to support the developers who had the original idea in all its brilliance, and I encourage you to do the same (I doubt you’ll regret it).

As you can see in the last screenshot above, my current high score is 7,392.  I’m interested in your best score, whether it’s higher or lower than mine.  Go ahead and post your scores in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @NickFoster56.  Have fun!

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