There are a few games that I am embarrassingly addicted to. The Simpsons: Tapped Out comes to mind, a game that I’ve whiled away many an hour playing (and passed on to my friends, too). Tetris was another that killed the battery life on my Game Boy back in the day. Today, the battery killer is a new game, called Dots.
What makes Dots better than my other addictions? Well, there’s a list, so let me just break it down after the jump.
1. It’s Easy to Play and Learn
Dots has arguably the shortest description I’ve ever seen on the App Store:
Dots is a game about connecting the dots.
While that is true, there is a bit more to the game than just the dots themselves. You have five colors of dots on the board: blue, yellow, red, purple and a minty green. Your job is to use your finger to connect two or more dots together. You can only do so in straight lines — no diagonals.
However, if you can trace your path back to the original dot or create a pentomino (and yes, I had to look that one up), then you get more points. And the bigger the shape, the more points you get. Also, once a pentomino is built, it clears out all of the dots of that color from the board. This usually allows you to build more square shapes, get more points and so on.
2. It’s Quick
One of the most important things about a game for me is that it’s easy to pick up and play quickly. The doctor’s office waiting room is a good example; I’ve got time to kill, but I have no idea how much, so I pick up something that I can put right back down if necessary. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t fit into that category, nor does anything else with a Save button. That’s why a quick game makes sense in those scenarios, and since I constantly seem to find myself in some kind of line or waiting room, Dots fits that criteria well.
Each round of Dots is just 60 seconds. If you find yourself in a bind for time, there are ways to temporarily stop time, but this levels the playing field across the board. If your friend has Dots, you can compare scores and see who does better in the same amount of time. Plus, it means that the longest I’ll have to wait to finish a bad or quick game is just a minute.
3. It Uses the iPhone in a Way That Makes Sense
Sliding your finger around the iPhone’s screen isn’t innovative, but it’s better than stupid virtual joysticks and buttons that you constantly miss. If I don’t hit the right key when I’m typing an email, no sweat. But reaching for a button that doesn’t exist can cause me to lose the game, and that will tick me off.
And there’s another advantage to the ease of the game: my three-year-old son can pick it up and play it anytime he wants. To me, that says that the game is simple enough for a preschooler to use, yet challenging enough for an adult to play regularly. Now that’s a tough game to beat.
4. It’s Fun
One of the cool things about Dots is that it gives you these little achievement cards whenever you pass a certain threshold. I played it a lot over the course of this review, and suddenly I see this card pop up that reads, “Kusama Dot. You completed forty rounds of Dots!” I’m sorry — forty?
So yes, the game is a blast to play. It’s one of those games — like Tetris, naturally — that requires some brainpower, but not enough for full concentration. I can play a game quickly at a commercial break, or sit intensely working at it for a bit to see how far I get. I love this game.
5. The IAP Doesn’t Suck
I think that most people hate in-app purchases, particularly when they’re placed in such a way that you need them to get the cool stuff or advance further in the game (which brings me back to Tapped Out, but I digress). With every game in Dots you earn points. Those points can be used to buy Time Stops, Expanders and Shrinkers, three options for you to adjust your game. If you want to speed up the process and buy more, you can purchase more points — but it’s completely unnecessary. Although I never had the cumulative points to get Expanders, I bought lots of the other two, and that helped.
Speaking of, what do those extras do? Well Time Stops can be used once per game, and they stop the timer for five seconds. A shrinker lets you eliminate one dot from the screen in case you need just that extra spot to make a shape. Finally, Expanders wipe out all the dots of that color from the board, just like making a shape does.
Adding It Up
End result, this is a fun game that you should own. There’s no reason why not, particularly when it’s free (although I paid $0.99 when I bought it a few weeks back), beautiful to look at and a ton of fun.
Any complaints on my end? No. Well, I guess that’s not totally true. I’m not happy with what it did to my productivity while I was writing this review, or once I was done. Is that something worthy of mention?
Who cares, I’ve got to get back to playing Dots.