Listen carefully to Windows Phone gamers, and you might hear them cursing Johnny Stevens under their breath. He's coded a version of Tetravex for Microsoft's smartphone and it's a frustrating puzzle game that rewards careful planning and thought. There may be many versions of the game out there, but this is one version I particularly like.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
In Tetravex you have a series of square pieces, with a value on each side. These have to be placed into a game grid so that each side touches a side with a similar value - in essence a big jigsaw.
The fun comes when when a number of pieces can have the same value on each side, and you have to start interlocking all the squares and values if you want to fill the grid. That's where the fun of Tetravex comes in, it's a great big jigsaw where the edges of each piece are not unique.
I say fun, it can become pretty complicated. Which gives the Tetravex genre a lovely feeling of style and charm.
This version of Tetravex has four different skill levels you can choose from, which vary the size of the grid you play on. The easy level is a 2x2 grid, and then you move up the sizes until you have a 5x5 grid on the expert level.
The UI also has some cute touches that make playing Tetravex easier. The pieces will snap to the squares in the game grid when you place them in roughly the right place, and if you slide your finger in an empty space outside of the grid, all the pieces in the grid will move in that direction as a group.
I also like that shaking your phone can organise the shuffled pieces that aren't on the game board. This is important to me as one thing I do when trying to solve a puzzle is to move the pieces around outside the board to try out combinations and layouts before putting them on the grid. This can get messy very quickly, so a quick shake of the smartphone to put everything back in order before my next bit of trial and error is welcome.
Take note that Tetravex in general is hard, not just this implementation. If you're not one for frustration, and having to back track a lot because the last piece does not fit, then Tetravex is not for you.
I've a love/hate relationship with the game, but I've no argument with the presentation on offer here. You have a choice of style for your playing pieces (numbers, letters, or greek symbols), and the code will pay attention to your own theme settings to tint the playing pieces.
One area that could do with a little bit more work (but isn't a deal breaker for me) is how Tetravex keeps track of your success. There is a timer that records your fastest time, but it's not something that I've been focussing on. When I'm working on the higher levels (intermediate and expert) the simple sense of accomplishment is enough to satisfy me. Tetravex also tracks the number of times you have played a game at each skill level. As well as the time taken, I'd love to see some statistics on how many successful games have been played, both for 'all time' and out of the 'last ten' as an alternative way of measuring progress and victory in the game.
But that's the definition of a 'stretch goal'. Developer Johnny Stevens has put together a slick implementation of Tetravex that is as challenging as the format of the game can be. The user interface fits in with Windows Phone, but does not get in the way of playing the game, and it has enough settings to let you tailor the game without feeling overwhelmed.
It's not a must have title, Tetravex can be very frustrating and is not going to have a wide appeal, but if a mix of logical thinking, jigsaw style gameplay and puzzling is for you, then you're not going to go far wrong with this version. In that sense, this is a definite recommendation.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at