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Fifteen (3DS) artwork

Fifteen (3DS) review


"Fifteen has few enough features to give the term 'barebones' a bad reputation."


When I was a very small child, I had a lot in common with other juveniles my age. I had a hard time sitting still in church for long periods of time, and yet I weekly attended church services where the speakers probably couldn't have ended a sermon on time if their lives depended on it. Those were brutal days, but fortunately my grandmother made me an activity book to keep me busy. A few times, I also got to play with the sliding block puzzle toy she kept in her purse.

Sliding block puzzles aren't what I would consider first-rate entertainment. The first few times I tackled one, though, I at least found the activity diverting. It kept me from banging the pews or doing other things that very small children do. My mind was too engaged to consider mischief, which was the entire point. So I definitely see the value of a sliding block puzzle, in the right circumstances. I'm just not sure those circumstances have anything to do with me sitting down to play my 3DS, a device which at this point is packed with dozens upon dozens of games, virtually any one of them more exciting than a traditional sliding block puzzle. I suppose that explains why Fifteen, a brand new downloadable title from RCMADIAX, costs only $1.49 on the eShop.

When you first fire up Fifteen, you are greeted with a red arrow that looks something like the Play button on a DVD player remote. You press it and, after a delay of several seconds, the lower screen populates with fifteen blocks of various hues (if you were wondering where the game got its title, now you should have a pretty good idea). The blocks are arranged obnoxiously out of order, prompting a person to wonder what scandalous events led to such an occurrence. We may never actually know, but on the top screen, there at least are some simple directions that tell us what to do next: "TAP SCREEN TO SHIFT BLOCKS, ALIGN THEM IN ORDER 1-15 TO CLEAR".

Fifteen (3DS) imageFifteen (3DS) image


To proceed, you can tap a block that is positioned next to the single open space on the grid. The block you tapped then slides into the adjoining space. You can keep tapping to shuffle blocks around, hopefully drawing closer to achieving your prescribed goal with each tap. There are no special effects to speak of. Tapping a block produces the same "bloop" each time. You won't see any blinding flashes when you clear a puzzle, either. Your only reward is the appearance of a "Retry" button.

At first, I thought I must be missing something. I cleared a puzzle, and there was no reference to how long I took. Press assets that were distributed at the time of the game's release (and which are helpfully posted on this site) showed a screen that notes a time and compares it to the best overall time.

"Well," I said to myself, "I've only cleared it once. I should clear it again and see if the time appears then, when there is an established point of comparison." So I cleared the puzzle a second time, and all I received for my trouble was the option to try again.

"Well," I said a second time, "I did dawdle a bit the last time around, and I hit the little box that looks like a browser Refresh button, so I guess I'll try again without doing any of those things."

Quickly, I solved the next puzzle. This time, I finally got my just reward: the same "Retry" option that appeared the previous two times. The screen that was included in the press kit must have been taken from a previous build, because try as I might, I couldn't do anything to induce the game to let me know how I had done. In fact, I couldn't even get back to the title screen without closing the game and opening it again. There's just not a lot to this one, I'm afraid.

I'm no longer a youngster in church. I have all sorts of games available to me, even when I'm not ready to spend any money. And although I sometimes do find myself in the mood to play something extremely simple just to while away a few spare minutes, I'm not sure I'll ever want something quite as simple as Fifteen. It doesn't offer memorable visuals or skins, there's no music or fanfare even when you clear a puzzle, and it doesn't track your performance so you at least have motivation to try again and improve. I suggest giving the game a pass, unless you absolutely adore sliding block puzzles. Do you?

1/5

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (April 15, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for nearly 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he also writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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Nightfire posted April 15, 2017:

Clearly, this is the Flappy Bird of puzzle games. $1.49 is way too steep for this pile of $#!@.

If you want a good, minimalistic sliding puzzle game, try 2048 instead. It's available in browser format and also available on iPhone and Android.
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honestgamer posted April 15, 2017:

Thanks for reading! I remember 2048 being a big deal near the top of the mobile charts for a few weeks, but if I'm being honest, I don't typically seek out sliding block puzzle games of any type. I reviewed this game primarily because it's one of the week's new releases and I knew it wouldn't get a lot of coverage. I like to help ensure that a wider variety of games secure quality coverage online, so that's what prompted the review.

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