Looking for a new puzzle game in a smart phone app store is often times a daunting task. Amid all the clones of Candy Crush Saga, Bust a Move, and Angry Birds there don’t seem to be any real options. At least that’s what I thought before a little math puzzle game came to my attention. SUMICO is a breath of fresh air after digging through mountains of unoriginality.
SUMICO is a puzzle game developed and published by Ludomotion, a dutch indie studio. It is free to download and play in its entirety although you do have the option to purchase an Ad Free version (priced at $3.74). It is a rather simple math puzzle on its surface. You are given target numbers that you must create using whatever combination of integers and operations provided to you. By connecting the appropriate tiles you slowly fill up a progress bar on the side of the screen which leads you to the next level and challenge.
At the very beginning you only have access to addition and subtraction, but after a bit of progress you unlock multiplication, division and squares. You can play a campaign mode that consists of 72 stages or an endless mode where you set a limit to what operations are available and play until failure. It is very easy to get a hang of as long as you have a basic understanding of math. But, this is only where the charm begins. You see, like most great puzzle games, there is this underlying depth to these simple mechanics that kept me coming back for more.
Within the simple premise and gameplay of SUMICO lies a combo system that not only tests your mathematical prowess, but also your ability to manage the game’s screen. As I mentioned before, you play the game by combining numbers and operations to create target values. The components are presented to you on tiles that shift downward as you use the resources below them. The screen management comes in when you realize these tiles aren’t infinite during campaign mode. You have limited moves based on what’s in front of you and they aren’t going to refill until you reach your current target. In fact, some levels remove the refill entirely requiring you to complete the challenge with the initial allotment of tiles. This limit is what makes the combo system so fun.
SUMICO uses a step combo system. To put it simply, the more steps you use in making the target the more combo modifiers are added to the resulting value. The five operations present in the game each come with their own combo modifier. For example using addition adds a +1 to your score while dividing adds a x3 bonus. These bonuses can be stacked and as long as you use them in acquiring your target they will contribute to your score. Managing the available tiles for the next target while also trying to build up a decent combo adds a nice sense of strategy to a simple, pleasant game.
There is one gripe I have with this game. Although the combo system is well thought out and plays like a charm, there really isn’t much of an incentive to use it. While you are rated by a three star system at the end of each puzzle based on your score, this rating contributes nothing to your progress. Actually, if you want, you can skip any level at any time and proceed to the next. As long as you complete the challenges you are ushered into the next stage no matter how low your score may have been and nothing needs to be unlocked. I hardly believe that leaderboard domination alone will lead to everyone shooting for high scores. Adding some type of necessity to the scoring would further bolster what is probably the best aspect of the game.
SUMICO is also very nice to look at. With a geometrical aesthetic and pastel colors in both the menu and game it really ties the whole package together. All the necessary information is present on screen at all times, the touch buttons are clear, and there is even a nice touch of humor. If you ever get stuck and are just staring at your screen why not take a gander at the lower left hand corner? Here you will find the title of the of the current stage which more often than not brought a smile to my face. Whether they be references to games enjoyed by the developers, pop culture references, or even allusions to the task at hand they have that nice human touch to them that I enjoyed.
All in all SUMICO is a very enjoyable game with a lot of potential. It has all the makings of a great puzzle game but just needs to commit more to the systems they so carefully designed. Incentive can go a long way to having gamers learn the ins and outs of the gameplay mechanics. With simple gameplay enhanced with a solid combo system for those who want to chase high scores this is definitely a game to help your daily commute go by or even just to relax with.
[+Simple gameplay][+Great combo system][-No real incentive to get deep into it]