Playing the 2048 game on your Windows Phone

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If you wanted to know what feeding frenzy the media would start next after Flappy Bird, then wait no longer. The mainstream press, on the lookout for the next breakout hit, have uncovered 2048. This arithmetical sliding tile game was developed by Italian Gabriele Cirulli online, and his release of the source code has given app developers the green light to build and release their own versions for many platforms, including Windows Phone. If you're ready to say goodbye to your weekend, here are five 2048 clients for your smartphone.

2048 is a simple game. It plays out on a 4x4 grid. Each time you make a move in a cardinal direction (up, down, left, or right) will see every tile move in that direction if at all possible, and they will keep moving until they hit the edge, or another tile. If a tile's number matches the title it crashes into, they will combine and the values are added together. So crash a 2 into another 2, and you get a single 4 tile.

Oh and on every move a new 2 tile is placed on the grid, so you'd better get crashing tiles together before you run out of space and the game is over.

Victory is simple. Chain together enough crashes so you get a single tile worth 2048. Which means taking a 2 tile and making it into a 4, then an 8, and then through 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024, right up to the final target. Fail to make that number, and your score is the value of all the tiles crashed together.

In this article, I'll be looking at the following versions:

The Mobile Web Version

The only way to get the original experience is to head over to Cirulli's mobile web page. Call up in your web browser, and away you go. Pin the web page to your start screen for quick access, and you have almost the full app experience. While the website suggests using cursor keys you'll be happy to know you can swipe your finger to slide the tiles. Persistent storage is also used to track your high score.

Of course you need to be online to open the app, and while the web browser does work, it's not the most friendly of gaming environments.

Score: 70% - Web Link

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2048 (Tedeusz) wrapper

One step up from the website is Tedeusz's application which goes for the simple naming convention of 2048. The application is a 'web'-based app, opening up a full-screen view of a single web page, which has taken the open-source code from Cirulli and been modified for the Windows Phone screen. It appears to be a locally hosted web page, as the app will open and run even in flight mode on my handset.

The graphics are still HTML based, so they can be quite jumpy, and when you have a lot of tiles and additions to go through it can be a touch stuttery, but it's very lightweight, simple to play, and you get high score tracking and a basic Windows Phone menu to restart the game.

Score: 75% - AAWP Link

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2048 Game (GT Development)

The biggest issue I have with this version of 2048 is the controls. Rather than use a swipe of your finger, the controls are four cursor buttons on screen. Swipe with your finger and you scroll the screen up by around a third. So GT are wrapping around an HTML version of the code, and not thinking about 'make it work on mobile'.

With no animations at all, a poor and slow UI, and an unnecessary scroll, 2048 Game at least serves as an example of how not to do a port.

Score: 30% - AAWP Link

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Get 2048 (Alikhil)

You want old school? You want grabbing the source code and pushing through an app as quickly as possible with all the charm of a SUN workstation? Then Get 2048 is the version for you. There's no animation, there's no pretence at creating a comfortable and cute UI or playing environment, this is 2048 at its most brutal and clinical. I'm sure this look will have its fans (mostly those studying AI and Computer Science at Abertay University), but in this instance I'm going to look for something a bit more... attractive. I like to be amused in my frustration.

Score: 60% - AAWP Link

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Binary Blocks (pMynLab Games)

One of the few titles to pass on using 2048 in its app name is Binary Blocks, but don't worry, it's the same game. It's all rather heavily loaded with branding and extraneous graphics, from the opening animated splash screen of the company, to a triangular advert on the menu screen, and an in-game advertising banner.

Commercial realities aside (and this is probably the cheekiest app cashing in on an open source release), Binary Blocks does save the state of the game if you have to leave and reopen the app, and the graphics are a little bit more friendly than the other titles (oh, and you have the darker background, which is going to save on your battery on many handsets). so this is probably the most 'gameified' version of 2048 so far.

But it all feels a little bit... dirty.

Score: 80% - AAWP Link

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2048 (Sergey Belous)

And finally to my favourite version of 2048 on Windows Phone, which I find intriguing because it's missing the high score counter. But then I'm measuring my progress in how close I can get to 2048 in an all-or-nothing mindset (so far, a 1024 next to a 512 block). That means the almost lag free movement, smooth animations, and quick response to my swipes means more than noting down how much I failed by.

It's not perfect, I have to remember to reopen the app from the task manager if I want to remember my status, but if speed is what you treasure, this is the version for you.

Score: 82% - AAWP Link

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Final Verdict

2048 only broke cover last weekend (although the game that inspired it,  'threes', has been about since February). Given that, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to point out that no one 2048 app on Windows Phone has managed to get everything right and deliver the 'close to perfect' experience that a mature title can deliver.

While I'm busy playing this weekend (and a few of you might just start cursing me as you start to play as well) I'm hoping that some developers are picking up the coding challenge to put all the good things into a single app. Until then, completists will want to look at Belous' version, while those chasing high scores and not aiming for ultimate victory will likely swing behind the ad-supported Binary Blocks.