We were a bit skeptical when we saw Tatomic featured on the App Store front page. It looked simple enough on the surface’”just another Tetris-inspired color-matching game. How does a game manage to stand out in a genre so swollen with clones?
Thankfully, Tatomic delivers a new and polished spin on an old formula and creates an entirely new game inspired by both Tetris and Bejeweled. Atoms fall in chains of two, and you have to connect like-colored atoms in order for them to reach ‘critical mass,’ react, and disappear. The number of required atoms varies depending on both color and the level. At one level, we were able to clear yellows with only four atoms, but reds required twenty-two! As levels speed by, the atoms take less and less time to fall, and more and more are required to clear a level. The result is a fun and frantic game that captures the core of what makes games like Tetris fun, while still being unique.
In addition to the standard mode (‘Critical Mass’), there are two others. In ‘Radioactive Survival,’ atoms don’t react on their own–they need the help of special radioactive atoms, which react whenever they touch one or more atoms of the same color. In ‘Puzzle Mode,’ you have to form a group of same-colored atoms into a specific shape, which can be much more challenging than you might think. The additional modes add significant value to the gameplay, but Critical Mass is still our favorite mode–you just can’t beat the panic of rising critical-mass requirements coupled with increasing speed.
A good game is nothing without good controls. While some have complained about Tatomic’s control scheme, we found it to be intuitive and precise, though it requires some adjustment if you’re accustomed to swipe-control schemes used in games such as Tetris. The ‘buttons’ are displayed as translucent overlays over the main game screen, but you don’t have to tap their exact locations to activate them, allowing you to focus on the game itself. The upper-left moves atom chains to the left; the upper-right moves them to the right; bottom-right rotates, and bottom-left is a hard drop. The pause is located in the middle of the top of the screen. The controls might be a problem if you have larger fingers, but in our experience, we found that tapping on the buttons didn’t obscure the playing area.
The level of polish present in the game is little short of phenomenal. The graphics are great, and the rotating atoms begin to vibrate with pent-up energy as they approach their critical mass–a nice touch that’s both a functional feature and an appreciated aesthetic detail. As for the music, it’s some of the nicest in-game music we’ve heard in a while, and every level has its own audio track.
With thirty levels, three modes, and nicely presented gameplay, there’s not much not to like about Tatomic. It’s fun, frantic, and brings back the key components that have always transformed the best fast-paced puzzle games into time-swallowing black holes. We would have liked to see online high score boards, and maybe some Wi-Fi or email-based challenges (we’re thinking of Tetris battle modes, here) but as it is, Tatomic is an addicting puzzle game. While it once sold for five dollars, it’s now on sale for $0.99, so if it sounds good to you, go for it!
Cazure won Runner-Up in User Reviews Contest for this review. Congrats Cazure!