Before video games, hand-held devices, and the Internet, there was…the tangram, a puzzle consisting of seven flat blocks that you’d put together, without overlapping, to form different shapes. The seven blocks–called tans–are composed of five right triangles (two small, one medium, and two large), one square, and one parallelogram. Many an afternoon would be wiled away attempting to complete different puzzle shapes. Now, The Grabarchuk Family has resurrected tangrams in iPhone app form, along with some excellent additions.
LetsTans has three game modes: Replica, Arcade, and Classic. Classic is the one that people will recognize right off the bat…it’s the same concept as the original game of moving pieces around until they fit into the shape provided. Tap a piece once to rotate and twice to mirror flip. The other two modes are rather more complicated concepts. In Replica, you are given a white shape outlined by colored tans. You must find seven different colored tans grouped together somewhere on the screen to make that same shape; tap a piece to select it. Be careful, the replica might be mirrored or rotated. Arcade mode also features a screen entirely filled with a mosaic of colored tans, but you are moving an outline by dragging your finger above the tans, in an effort to capture seven differently colored ones with the outline perfectly. As the shape can also be rotated and mirrored, you can flip the iPhone to landscape view in order to flip the outline and double tap it to mirror. If you’re stuck, just tap the + button in the bottom left corner to pause the game, leave it, restart it, or get a hint (the number of hints that can be given can be adjusted in the Options). Of course, the puzzles increase in difficulty as you finish them and move on to the next. Oh, and your games are timed, as well.
Tangrams are a family favorite game, and LetsTans is a great 21st century update. The controls and physics are very smooth and responsive, and the graphics are nicely done–colorful without being garish. The only real downside is that the app tends to throw you right in the midst of things. There’s no menu page or explanations upon opening up the app, and once you choose a puzzle to tackle the timer is started right away. A simple “Start Now” button would suffice. But aside from that, the Replica and Arcade modes are admirably challenging additions, and with nearly 200 different puzzles and 64 different shapes, you’ll be well (and happily) occupied for quite some time. So relive your childhood and dust off that brain; at $1.99, this addictive iPhone app is a steal.
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