TNNS is another new take on an old gaming idea, one of the oldest in fact. It’s hard after all these years to take a great standby like Pong and breathe fresh life into it, but that’s what TNNS is trying to do. The graphics and soundtrack are up-to-date, and the gameplay is exciting and addictive. But for TNNS, an arcade game with undeniable similarities to the oldest video game ever, is that enough to create something original and interesting?
Busting up Blocks
Have you ever played Breakout or Pong? TNNS has a similar premise in that you’ve got a ball wheeling around the screen and you need to keep it moving with a depressingly small paddle. Each level is a little different, but it’s mostly knocking blocks around until you’ve cleared your way to the next level.
The game starts when the ball appears above the paddle. Don’t put your finger on the paddle! Then you won’t be able to see it and all will be lost. Instead, tap the screen directly under the paddle and a ball will appear. Swipe back and forth to catch the ball and swing it back up in the direction of the blocks.
If you catch the ball at an angle, it will reflect at an angle. If you wiggle the paddle at the point of impact, though, you can really put some English on it, if by English you mean flinging it through the air at high speed in a seemingly random direction. To be fair, it’s not really random, but everything moves so quickly, it sure might feel random when you first start playing.
Collect the Stars
As you play, you collect stars used to buy power ups. You can also buy stars through in-app purchases. If you love the app, you can support the developers by getting some extra multi-balls. Whether you purchase the stars or earn them, the power ups do some pretty cool things and may almost seem necessary if you want to see the world beyond the first few levels of TNNS.
The multiball is probably self-explanatory, but this power gives you not one ball, but three. When they start moving super fast, it can feel like a lot more, though. It’s great for knocking out a lot of blocks quickly, and it won’t end your game if you lose one or two of your balls. I did get some lag when my multiballs were whizzing around, so that’s something to keep in mind.
A barrier acts like an extra life. If you can’t quite catch the ball, the barrier keeps you going. The standard barrier is only good for one hit, but you can buy them in sets to really protect yourself. The block barrier, though, can really take a beating and is worth the extra stars.
Giant paddles make it easier to knock the ball, and there are all sorts of ball power ups, too. Fireballs and superballs will tear through blocks, but they cost more stars. It really all comes down to the stars, and it may be hard to move forward without your star-funded power ups.
The game looks fantastic. The graphics are simple, just boxes and circles pinging around the screen. The colors and animation really bring the game to life, though, and give it a personality all its own. While the levels aren’t random, the color of each level is, so what comes next is always a surprise. Even levels I’ve played several times feel new because the palettes range from gray and white to bubble gum to a pea green and everything in between.
The sounds are fun and interesting, and I like the background music a lot. The sound effects are exciting, perfectly matching the action on the screen and adding to the tension as the difficulty ramps up. I could see the chirpy, electronic sounds starting to get on your nerves, though, and you can turn off the music, effects or both in the settings.
TNNS is a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of old school Breakout and Pong. It’s the sort of game you can get sucked into for more than just a few minutes, and I found myself sinking my entire lunch break into trying to reach just one more level. It definitely falls into the category of addictive games that you just can’t put down. While the gameplay is nothing new, TNNS will suck you in and won’t let go.
That said, it’s not easy. It’s fast paced, and I could only get so far before I really started feeling like I needed those power ups. And the power ups do make TNNS a bit easier, but not by much. This is a game for people who don’t mind their fun coming with a little agony, and more than a rage quit or two, and it’s for people who are willing to try, try again.