Tower of the Ancients
Windows - 2000
Description of Tower of the Ancients
Tower of The Ancients is a fun, fast-paced puzzle game that ranks among one of the best Tetris clones ever created, featuring spectacular graphics and sound effects.
It is unfortunate that the game isn’t very well known because it was sold only on-line from the official site, and developer/publisher Fiendish Games has gone out of business. There is even a plot to this puzzler: you are an ancient priest who is on a quest to build a tower to Heaven by trying to divert God’s attention elsewhere. Inexplicably, this is accomplished by arranging columns of three tiled blocks in patterns that create vertical, horizontal, or diagonal lines; do so and the lines are cleared (think about the classic Sega puzzler Columns and you’re on the right track). The playing field is actually made of a large rotating disc that you catch the blocks on. Accumulate enough blocks and the board actually begins to look like a tower. A few powerup-style blocks are introduced periodically to liven up the proceedings.
While the goal to surpass every level is designated in blocks or lines required, the latter stages alternate between the standard block clearing or the more chaotic line, pillar, or stair clearing. In every level, lines are cleared through making vertical, horizontal, or diagonals, but in level four, only flat lines count, in six only vertical, and in level eight, only diagonal lines count towards your end total. Couple the goal requirements with a steadily increasing speed from level to level and it makes for some pretty hectic gameplay in the second half of the nine levels the game provides. Nine levels may not sound like much for a puzzle game, but Tower of The Ancients is challenging enough that all but Tetris maniacs will spend countless hours on each. The game takes advantage of the increasing specs of current PC’s by utilizing 3D hardware (through Direct3D) to display the game board and surrounding environment in full 3D, with some reasonably nice effects for a puzzle game.
Overall, Tower of the Ancients isn’t terribly groundbreaking, but it is still a lot of fun even after the “wow” effect of 3D graphical pizzazz wears of. It may not introduce any unique twists to the familiar Tetris’ falling-blocks formula, but is still a lot of fun, and the excellent 3D environments really help draw you into its pseudo-religious motif. One gripe, from Joe W., is that "...it's really hard to lose while paying any kind of attention until around level 10. That, does take quite a while, at least 20 mins by my estimate. This makes the game very unsuitable for short play period, which, IMO, is very important in a tetris/columns-ish puzzle game." Still, if you have plenty of time, this underdog comes highly recommended.
Note: In 2002, independent publisher Small Rockets has licensed the game from Fiendish Games for distribution as shareware from their website, so check it out below.
[thanks to Joe W. for the info!]
Review By HOTUD
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