written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Puzzlers seem to round out a wide swath of what mobile app stores have to offer in gaming. Even as early as the days of Feature Phones, games like Bejeweled were at the top of the charts, years before any birds were remotely “angry”. So it’s also no surprise that sometimes you need to search through a good amount of crappy puzzlers to come out on top. 10000000 (yes that is a “one” with seven “zeros” preceding it), or Ten-Million (ongoing referred to as 10M), is a puzzle game created by the minds over at Eighty-Eight Games in the UK. If you’ve ever played any old school adventure games, the overall style of this title should be immediately familiar.
There isn’t much story to a puzzle game. Your character is trapped in a dungeon or castle or prison (something with lots of bricks) and to escape you have to continually pop into the dungeon and fight off enemies while racking up points. You win when you can get to 10,000,000 points. That’s all really… simple but effective.
Visually, 10M is a treat. Slick, old school graphics transport the player back to the days of simple gaming. The “adventure game” element sits at the top 10% of the screen, like a side scroller, and your hero character continually runs to the right (and right into the opposition). The game board spans the majority of the screen and sits on the lower 90% of it. The game board is surprisingly detailed and blocks are simplistic yet immediately discernable. The sprites in the upper screen are charming and while lacking detail (is that a zombie? Or a ninja? Or a monkey?) it’s more than what makes up for it in style. There is a sort of charm behind a game like this. Sure it looks like a relic from the Commodore 64 era, but it’s a mighty fun and addictive relic!
Here is the section that matters the most in my review: gameplay in a puzzle game is paramount and has to be snappy and easy to execute, all the while delivering a challenge to the player. Upon waking up, your first and only option is to open up the big door at the bottom (renovating rooms is a game mechanic that comes later). The objective of the game is to clear the obstacles in front of you before the timer runs out which is denoted by your character sprite. If the left side of the top screen catches up to you, *poof*, back to the home screen.
The game board features the following blocks: swords (physical attack), staves (magic), backpacks (items), keys (unlocking), stone and wood (to gain building materials). Match three or more to execute the action. Each run is meant to be short indeed, and if you last more than 2 minutes consider yourself lucky. On the main home screen, you can use the stone and wood you gather to build (and upgrade) several rooms. Within these rooms you can upgrade your attacks and magic, even equip potions that carry a massive bonus with an equally crippling handicap. Time is most definitely NOT on your side when you play 10M, other than the locked chests and doors in your way. When an enemy attacks, you face a time penalty as well. This makes those moments when you’re wedged between a dragon and your time limit, just a tick stressful.
What IS on your side are the tools of your adventure. Opening up chests or matching backpacks yields items that help you along the way, and you can eat food to advance a few steps or use orbs or throwing axes to damage the enemies in your way. One key game mechanic to keep in mind is that failure is to be expected. It’s a game where you inch step-by-step closer to the ultimate goal of hitting 10,000,000 points. The game keeps going until you run out of space by reaching the right side of the screen and then you also gain a massive bonus. This sure does incentivize being quick with matching your game tiles
While the old school graphics are nostalgic at best (but pretty damn ugly at worst), the simplistic nature of the gameplay keeps me coming back. The completionist in me pushes myself to hit that goal of 10,000,000 points and the RPG aficionado revels in the character building found on the home screen. While it’s a simple game that has provided countless moments of sublime puzzling bliss, 10M is a bloody addiction, but at least it isn’t crack… crack is whack… don’t do drugs.