Thom Yorke, the perennially morose frontman of Radiohead, once bemoaned that, “Gravity always wins” in indie kid-anthem Fake Plastic Trees. Clearly Thom had been too busy navel-gazing to research the anti-gravity functions that Frolicode have discovered and put do great effect in their latest game, Hoopla Gems.
I jest, of course, as Hoopla Gems is as far away from anything that resembles depressing introspection; for one thing, there are no minor keys in the soundtrack, a jaunty synthesised piece that is addictive as it is repetitive, much like the game itself.
We’re greeted by the Jekyll and Hyde of the Tetris world, Hoopla and Poopla, who take us through the tutorial in which we learn the tips and tricks to the jazzed up column-deleting game. Poopla is a devilishly red little character who announces that he is there to make things harder for you, while his Janusian green counterpart, Hoopla, is there to assist.
Once you’re straight with the rules, the action begins. On the screen, the Tetris-esque cubes hang in rows and blocks of varying colours, descending with each round of play; if they hit the bottom, it’s Game Over. You can select a colour from the three presented to you at the bottom of the screen (the selection of which changes with each turn) and then press on the coloured blocks that you want to delete. The blocks are held together with various hinges; deleting the block that has blocks hinged to it will delete the blocks that have nothing to cling to. Clear? You’ll get it.
Naturally, old Hoopla is there to help you with bonuses for good tactics and supplies you with a range of secret weapons: Bonanza doubles the score for a particular play, Antigravity (hello again, Thom) pauses the blocks from descending, Reshuffle rearranges the colour buttons to choose from and Masterstroke eliminates all of the selected coloured blocks on the screen.
It may seem a little overwhelming, but it is actually incredibly simple and very easy to get enthralled in (I’m currently getting evil stares from my FanAppic co-workers as I spend another happily wasteful hour ‘researching’ the game’s next levels).
A big thumbs up from us as we highly recommend this free app to anyone needing a little boost in their day (not naming names, Thom…).