Tatomic, developed by VGViews, may very well be one of the more addictive puzzle games you have yet to try out for the iPhone. Seemingly inspired by hit titles such as Lumines and Super Puzzle Fighter II, Tatomic successfully fuses several proven gameplay elements and adds some unique twists of its own. The premise of the game may already be familiar to those who have played enough puzzle games. Link similar colors together, clear them off the board and watch more combos come your way. What sets Tatomic apart though is HOW you trigger these explosions. VGViews has cleverly designed this puzzler with 3 game modes that will have players utilizing different strategies for each game type.
Tatomic has you playing on a 12 x 8 grid where a pair of falling atoms will need to be chained to other atoms, preferrably of the same colors. Essentially, the longer the chain, the higher your score. In the first game mode Critical Mass, the only way to make your atoms explode is by linking together the specified number of atoms per color in each level. So on level 1, you will see the stats 4 yellow, 6 green, 8 blue and 10 red atoms on the left side of the screen. In order to trigger an explosion among blue atoms, a minimum of 8 blues have to be chained together. For the red atoms, you will need 10, and so forth. To make things way more interesting, every time you advance to the next level, these numbers will change. Some levels will require 10 in each color while in others, you will need to chain up 24 red atoms before they explode! It is this variation that makes it so fun from level to level.
The second mode of play is Radioactive Survival. While you still need to chain atoms of the same color, the method of explosion is completely different. Now the only way to achieve this is via the radioactive atoms. Once these special atoms touch other atoms of the same color, all that are linked will vanish from the board. The fun here is attempting to chain together as many atoms as possible and then enjoy the fireworks as the radioactive atom hammers down. Watching 37 red atoms explode in one game followed by a chain reaction of further explosions to the blue atoms was simply fantastic.
The third and final game mode is Puzzle Mode. Rather than scoring points off massive explosions, your goal here is to duplicate a preset shape using only atoms in one color of your choice. If your designated shape is a 4×4 square. then your atoms must also form an exact 4×4 square. No more, no less. Currently, there are 20 puzzles offering a variety of shapes and sizes. To complicate matters (and making it more fun) is that radioactive atoms will fall as well and possibly disrupt your shape building. If these atoms are of the same color and touch any part of your semi built shape, then you will have to start the shape all over again.
The controls are laid out on the screen and you press them with your thumbs like you would a game controller. The left and right movement buttons for your atoms are located on the corresponding top corners of the screen. At the bottom left, you will find the button for accelerating the speed in which the atoms drop. The bottom right button is for rotating the atoms. It may take you some time to get used to these controls. Once you get used to it though, they work well for the most part.
The graphics are not over the top, but well done nonetheless. Animations for the atoms are great. The more that are linked together, the faster they spin. When you have a long chain of atoms just about ready to explode, it is neat to see them all spinning around like crazy. The music is surprisingly good. The hypnotic beats change when you level up and it all ties in together with Tatomic real well.
There are some minor issues I had with Tatomic though. First is the control scheme. Currently, the location of the buttons themselves cannot be moved around. It would have been a huge plus if players were given the option of where these buttons appear on the screen. When I first started playing this game, I kept getting the drop and rotate buttons mixed up. Secondly, I would have liked to see a difficulty setting (easy, normal and hard) for the first two game modes. Giving the player this option could open more doors for further challenges (like Tetris, starting the game with atoms falling faster from the getgo).
The bottom line: Tatomic is indeed a very solid and fun puzzler. With its 3 varied game modes, players will have more than just one reason to keep coming back for more. If you enjoy puzzle games and have a craving for those long exploding chains and combos, you definitely won’t be disappointed.