Game Over Online ~ Tower of the Ancients

GameOver Game Reviews - Tower of the Ancients (c) Fiendish Games, Reviewed by - FitFortDanga

Game & Publisher Tower of the Ancients (c) Fiendish Games
System Requirements Windows 95/98, Pentium 166MMX, 3D accelerator, 32Mb Ram
Overall Rating 31%
Date Published Monday, February 7th, 2000 at 12:42 AM

Divider Left By: FitFortDanga Divider Right

I'm not sure which day it was that God created Tetris, but the very next day all the clones started crawling out of the woodwork. From the irreverent creators of Natural Fawn Killers and Hot Chix 'n' Gear Stix comes this Biblical-themed puzzle game. When the people of Babylon began building the Tower of Babel to climb to Heaven, God punished their arrogance by giving them all different languages. But what if God wasn't paying attention? That's where you come in: it's your job to stop them. I'll leave it to the theologians to decide whether or not this is blasphemous.

How do you accomplish your task? Surprise, surprise... you rotate and place falling blocks. Each block has three symbols on it (crucifix, star of David, that little Jesus fish, etc). Line up three or more of the same symbol in a line and they get zapped out of the structure. The more you knock out with one move, the more points you get. And of course, eliminating blocks shifts the other blocks down, which can trigger a chain reaction knocking out more portions of the tower. You can shift the order of the symbols within the blocks before they hit the tower, and rotate the tower. You won't be needing a reference card for these controls.

After a while, you get a wider variety of symbols, making the situation more difficult. Each stage requires that you remove a certain number of blocks to progress to the next level. If the tower hits the top of the screen before you complete the objective, the hand of God sweeps down and it's game over. Some levels only count matches in a particular direction (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal). Later on in the game you get special blocks to help you -- a "Wild Card" block and a "Spite Block" (which eliminates all of whichever symbol it lands on).

At first, I had a pretty good time playing Tower of the Ancients. It's a decent twist on the Tetris theme. But it doesn't take long to tire of it. Once you've done the first 10 levels or so, you've seen all the game has to offer. After that, it's just more of the same, except the levels require more blocks to complete. There didn't seem to be any end to it, it just gets harder and harder until you lose. This works for Tetris because the speed of the game ramps up with each level until it reaches a frenzied pace. In Tower, the speed remains constant while subsequent levels will take longer and longer to complete. You can't save the game at all, so it's either continue after you lose, or start all over again next time you play. The whole game is essentially frustration or boredom without reward.

The graphics are what you'd expect from a budget developer: crude. Lighting "effects" consist of pure white hyper-pixelated blobs randomly floating around the screen. The backgrounds are somewhat pleasing, but nothing that couldn't have been done five years ago. The hand of God strangely resembles the hand of a malnourished Ethiopian.

On the audio front, things aren't much better. The music is appropriately epic-sounding, with ominous choirs and Gregorian chants. However, it tends to be choppy, and get buried in the cluttered ambient sounds. The blast of "Hallelujah" you get after pulling off nice combo is satisfying, but the "laser" sound of a row being wiped out will get under your skin after one or two levels.

There's no reason for this game not to have multiplayer. I'm reasonably sure that with three days training in whatever language this is coded in (I'm guessing Fortran) I could stick two towers next to each other and map a secondary group of controls for side-by-side play.

So is it worth your $15? I'm going to have to say no. Unless you enjoy endlessly repetitive tasks, this game won't hold the interest of even the most diehard puzzle fan for more than 10 minutes. Run far away from this one, and don't look back or you might turn into a pillar of salt.

Graphics [8/20]
Sound [6/15]
Gameplay [9/30]
Funfactor [6/20]
Multiplayer [0/5]
Overall Impression [2/10


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