Puzzle games are plentiful, which can make it all the more difficult to add something noteworthy to the genre. Numba at first glance looks like every other falling-block games on the market, but don’t be too quick to pass judgment. This is a finely tuned puzzle game that, while not busting at the seams with unique qualities, boasts a solid presentation and enough addictive elements to easily justify its ultra cheap $1.99 asking price.
What at first seems like a simple concept– link patterns of numbers together by dragging your finger across connecting tiles– quickly expands due to Numba’s huge variety of combo opportunities. Chain at least three numbers together in a run to make them disappear, whether they are identical (3, 3, 3) or chronological (1, 2, 3).
Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine.
As tiles vanish, new ones fall to take their place. Remove enough of them to level up and move to the next stage, each of which adds either a new challenge or mixes previous challenges together for an increasingly more daunting task.
Runs continue to gain complexity: Straight runs, odd runs (1, 3, 5), reverse doubling (8, 4, 2), and even incremental states (1, 5, 9) make up some of the options, including a few that enable bonus multipliers.
And just when you think you are getting the hang of it, Numbra throws in fire tiles (which melt ice tiles and eventually burn out if they aren’t used), vanish tiles (which disappear and can only be used every other turn), and chameleon tiles (which change numbers each turn). Toss into the mix a slowly ticking timer (unless you play on the Timeless mode) and the ability to shake the device to jumble tiles, and you have a truly intense mathematical experience.
There are three types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can’t.
Puzzle mode is also available, offering predefined puzzles that become incredibly difficult (perhaps frustratingly so), but we’re glad to have the additional mode of play to increase the game’s longevity.
Numba not only plays well, with its excellent touch controls, but it also looks and sounds fantastic. The visuals aren’t arresting in any way, but they are clean with solid color choices that help you easily discern between the multitude of tiles on the screen.
The best part, though, is the soundtrack, which is without a doubt one of the best electronic mixes we’ve yet heard in an iPhone game. It’s good enough that we’d love to have the soundtrack offered as a bonus download.
Simply put, puzzle fans will thoroughly enjoy Numba. It isn’t a game-changing iPhone experience, but it maximizes a lot of existing concepts and polishes them to a shine.