Koozac: Math meets Tetris in this oddly alluring puzzle game

Back at E3 in June, we had a chance to go hands-on with Square Enix's then upcoming mobile puzzle game Koozac, which combines light math with Tetris style gameplay as you drag and drop number tiles from the top of the screen to form larger numbers. Then, we thought the game might be free-to-play, but now that the game has officially launched on both iPhone and iPad, we've learned that Koozac is one $0.99 download that plays like a freemium game but ultimately isn't.

Koozac comes with three gameplay modes: Puzzle, Endless and Blitz. All three offer twists on the same general gameplay, as you'll manipulate dozens or even hundreds of number tiles in a single game, with numbers on each tile ranging from 1-5. A set of numbers cycle in the top left corner of the screen, and it's then up to you to drag and drop these number tiles in such a way as to create that larger number via simple addition. As an example, if you're asked to create the number nine, you could drop a five tile on top of a four tile.

In the game's Puzzle mode, you'll make your way through increasingly difficult levels, eliminating all of the gray tiles that are placed in seemingly random layouts at the bottom of the screen. You'll earn points and stars based on your performance, but this star mechanic is a bit confusing as we never earned less than three stars, even if a level took us five minutes or more to complete. In the case of Endless mode, you're given an entirely blank screen and are allowed to earn as many points as possible until you manually end the game or run out of places to put blocks. Finally, Blitz offers 60-second gameplay as you'll compare your scores against those of your Facebook friends on a weekly resetting leaderboard.

Throughout it all, Koozac comes with incredibly sensitive controls, making it far too easy to accidentally drop a tile onto the wrong column and create more work for yourself in the process. This is obviously unfortunate for new players, as you'll need to find a balance for how fast to move your own finger or thumb to achieve the proper results. What's more, in-game achievements will appear at the very top of the screen, blocking your view of both your active tile and the number you're trying to form, which is unnecessarily annoying to say the least. This achievement banner system could have just as easily been placed at the bottom of the screen, out of the way of our view. Finally, you can purchase power-ups to make your games a bit easier (point multipliers, hints and so on), but these cost coins which are ultimately best purchased in bulk with real money. In a game that costs $0.99 to begin with, this shouldn't be the case, but the rate of free coin generation within the game itself is simply too slow.


Still, for the game's main issues, there's something oddly alluring about Koozac. It's a mostly slow-paced experience, even in the game's Blitz mode, as the speed of dropping tiles never becomes overly chaotic. The graphics are crisp and bright, the music is relaxing and it's easy to get pulled into the simple formula of adding numbers to create larger groups. It's simply unfortunate that the game isn't free to play from the beginning, as its premium boost system would be much easier to accept and even support if that were the case.

Click here to download Koozac on iTunes --->

Have you tried Koozac on your iPhone or iPad? What do you think of this number puzzle game? Sound off in the comments!

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