Lacotipa


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Rating: 4/5 (78 votes)
| Comments (35) | Views (33)

GrimmrooklacotipaTonypa has a well-earned reputation for developing games that at once exhibit simple elegance and deceptively deep gameplay. Lacotipa, a tile-based puzzle with roots that extend back to Pipe Dreams, most definitely stands as a solid addition to Tonypa's already considerable stable.

The goal in Lacotipa is simple enough. You are presented with a board with at least one tile on it. Each tile has anywhere from zero to four connectors that point up, down, left, or right (for clarification, the zero tiles show up on later levels and are automatically placed on the board as a sort of obstacle). Your job is to eventually close off all paths created by the connectors using one of the five available tiles at the bottom of the screen. Closing off a path can be done by connecting a capping tile to a connector, using connectors to form closed loops, or by successfully directing a pathway to the edge of the playing field. As the old adage goes, learning to play is easy, mastery is not.

Tonypa strikes a wonderful balance of luck and skill here. The randomly chosen tiles for you to place and the inability to rotate tiles takes at least a portion of your fate out of your hands. This does not hamstring you completely, but instead forces you to think about the puzzle differently, playing a game of probability with each potential path you create. Plus, you are given all the time in the world to plot out your moves. Thus a rather old style of puzzle/strategy game is injected with a new twist that can be quite addicting.

Complementing the gameplay is Tonypa's trademark minimalist approach to aesthetics and smooth theme music, here provided by Kevin Macleod as usual. Tiles are little more than stylized icons, admirable in their own way for their quiet beauty, and yet they don't distract the slightest bit from play. Meanwhile the cool jungle beat in the background is pleasant, unobtrusive, and imminently listenable.

Perhaps the one quibble we had was that the instructions could be made a little more clear; some of us didn't realize that using the edge of the playing field was a valid option until we had already lost a frustratingly large amount of games. But aside from that, Tonypa has produced yet another simple, beautiful, and addicting game for us to obsess over.

Play Lacotipa

Thanks to Shannon for sending this one in! =)

35 Comments

SonicLover Author Profile Page June 16, 2009 3:22 PM

*scolds Kyle for splitting an infinitive*

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I played this game last night and wondered why it hadn't been reviewed on here - I didn't realise it had only just been released!

Really nice twist on the plumbing genre (I'm sure it must have a less silly name than that, but I can't imagine what it is.)

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That less silly name was mentioned in the review: Pipe Dreams (or Pipe Mania)...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipe_Mania_(video_game)

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Yes, but is Pipe Dreams/Mania the name of the genre, or just the first game in the genre? That was my confusion, anyway. Although, I suppose, it's such a simple game structure that most other iterations are basically clones.

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Ah ok, good point. I can't think of anything better than "plumbing" either. :)

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Czaerana Author Profile Page June 16, 2009 4:10 PM

Love this game. Not frenetic, not clicky. Just cool!

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Fun game, although it leaves me feeling a bit unfulfilled. Some sort of bonus for beating each level would be nice, although not necessary. Also, perhaps an ability to rotate one of the pieces in your inventory could add some depth to the gameplay, allowing longer games and not relying completely on the luck of the draw when it comes to surviving a level.

Otherwise, quite enjoyable :)

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If you think this game relies completely on luck, you're missing the strategy that lies under the surface.

Yes the pieces are drawn for you at random, but you're given a variety of pieces and the choice is yours what you do with them.

For example, don't close yourself off on top if all you have are top-fitting pieces. Also, provide yourself with more ends when the pieces you're given are restrictive or don't fit many of the ends you have already.

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gmpilot Author Profile Page June 16, 2009 4:30 PM

Seems to be a quite popular game in Finland!

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JC Lisbon June 16, 2009 4:40 PM

My wife is from Finland, I'll have her play it, see if she can explain this phenomenon.

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Gobsmacked Author Profile Page June 16, 2009 4:42 PM

I don't see how any of you won even one game.

Close off even one avenue (left, right, top, or down), EVER, and you will immediately begin getting absolutely nothing but pieces that only fit that direction of opening.

Close off more than one, and it happens even faster.

Since you are supposed to close off openings, but lose as soon as you do, I'm not sure what the point is. It doesn't seem to matter what "strategy" of placement I use, if I'm 100% guaranteed to get all unusable pieces as soon as it is possible to have an unusable piece. 5-moves-to-lose, every time.

Moving on...

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That sounds like borderline paranoia, Gobsmacked.

I can absolutely say for certain that the game is not rigged to make you lose (over the course of several levels perhaps, but not immediately). I consistently get up to level 4 and beyond with this game. You really need to plan ahead.

Similar to my advice in the Starcom thread, if what you're doing in a game consistently produces negative results: try a different strategy.

(And isn't that good advice for life in general?)

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Ninjastyle June 16, 2009 5:17 PM

I don't even read reviews for Tonypa games anymore - I just click them and play them already :)

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Ninjastyle - you can always tell them by the way they're named too!

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While I liked this one, I agree with the statement that it leaves you unfulfilled.

I finally made it several levels in, but then I just stopped, because there was no satisfaction in playing the "harder" levels. They all seemed equally difficult to me. This felt like the kind of puzzle where the challenge is lost once you've beaten it. :-/

Here are some basic tricks I found:

Don't ever close off an endpoint using a cap, unless you have one or more options in that direction. The best solution appears to be working toward the edges, and especially corners.

Also, when possible, set up a "ladder" using opposite-sided 3-way pieces. These can walk toward an edge. This works both horizontally and vertically. It keeps endpoints open, and it is also easy to place 4-way pieces if you get stuck with them.

Finally, conserve the easy-to-use pieces, like straights, corners, and end-caps.

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JC Lisbon June 16, 2009 7:12 PM

So as it turns out, Finnish folk play online games a lot more than most people. That, combined with the fact that Tonypa is Estonian, which is right beside Finland, explains the large amount of Finnish people there. Jay, maybe you should start translating your reviews into Finnish, there's your demographic!

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JNinjaz Author Profile Page June 16, 2009 7:12 PM

Haha! in level two, I ended up making a rough Black Mesa logo :P

This game is fun but not addicting. The concept is great, I just wish it was more strategy than luck. What I do like about this more than regular plumbing games is that you are not timed and you have a choice of what tile to use next and don't have to just take what is given.

overall, 3/5

P.S. SonicLover, splitting an infinitive is grammatically acceptable. I think "To boldly go" sounds much better than the alternative, and any trekies would agree.

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blockhose June 16, 2009 7:47 PM

Another nice minimalist design, but the game got pretty boring after awhile. Still, tonypa is one of my favorite game designers.

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I thought the directions were pretty clear about being able to use the edges--or perhaps they were changed after this review was written.

Fun game, as usual--you come to expect a certain standard from Tonypa, and he always delivers.

I have one question, though: what is the point of the outlines at the end of the level? My first thought was that you had to try to make all the squares black (that is, the outlines from successive levels would overlap until the whole board was black, at which point you would get a bonus or some nice surprise), but when I finished the second level it simply replaced the first level outline. So I'm not sure why it's there. Am I missing something?

At any rate, I think that would be a nifty addition to the game: getting a bonus for filling in the entire board (the fewer levels you do it in, the higher the bonus, maybe).

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I agree, Suho1004, I thought exactly the same thing the first time I played, and I agree it would make a nifty additional reward to work towards.

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Nice puzzle. The only problem is that when you lose, it happens all of a sudden, and then you have to go back through the high scores and reload the ad just to get another crack at it. Not a huge problem, just a bit annoying.

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Thank you all for the review and comments, and all the Finnish people for playing the game :)

Suho1004, there is currently no extra idea related to the finished levels other then perhaps look at them.

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hespetre June 17, 2009 4:54 AM

Very addictive!

It took me a while to get how you play again without having to reload, i.e. by clicking "close" on the score sheet.

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I have to agree with xiefeilaga. The game is enjoyable, but having to watch another ad after losing is very, very, very annoying. Ads should only play once when the game first loads. A "Start New Game" button would be helpful.

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tonypa: maybe keep that in mind for a future incarnation? ;)

Whatever the case, I enjoyed the game. Quite a nice little challenge.

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It took me a while to get how you play again without having to reload, i.e. by clicking "close" on the score sheet.

This didn't work for me.

I really like this game and find myself returning to it, but the ad frequency seems high. I'm all for making money, but in the beginning when a player is new and "dies" early, that can mean another video ad every few minutes.

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I discovered the game sometime around the 13th, maybe before if I had revisited it, not sure. I love all tonypa games, this one is not as encouraging as some others. It like a few others is one where you have THINK rather than just play and guess along to where you can continue for a while. Those that have strategy are those that get the high scores, a bonus to being good at the game.

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Sadly, as with many puzzles with randomized layouts whose creators don't take special care to avert this, it is very easy to be dealt a hand that is literally impossible to win with, no matter how clever your moves are... so, your final score depends equally as much on the game's randomizing factor as it does on any strategy of your part.

I probably wouldn't be quite so ticked off at that if tonypa hadn't made it so one loss is an instant game over (maybe put in a level tier, where a loss just makes you try that level again?), hadn't put in a score sheet, or at least hadn't installed a frickin' leaderboard, but now, there's a leaderboard where the final scores are much more dependent on luck than on skill, and that never fails to really piss me off.

Sorry, tonypa. Clever idea for a puzzle, but I can't give the game a thumbs-up.

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I love this game, but quickly tired of the "leader board" and the advertisement before the game would load again. An ad on top or off to the side wouldn't be a problem, and it would still get my eyeball.

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The thing about the internet is that it isn't like magazines, radio, or television. There are literally billions of channels I can flip to instantly. Pop-ups, roll-overs, sounds on a webpage -- and my eyeballs are GONE.

But ads on top or to the side are fine. I do realize sites need to make money, and the internet with lots of potential eyeballs is a great place to advertise.

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Not sure where to report a bug, but I just scored 713 and have no way of reporting it -- because the first position on the board as a no -play (yet no shakey shakey exit). Designer of the game needs to run the "See-if-no-play" programming logic even on the initial setup, because it is possible to simply not be able to play a single tile (Wasn't sure of that till it bit me. I had stopper blocks on all four corners and no pieces (lines or caps) that could get me out.

If I didn't already have a 721 on the all-time list (sutekh137), this really, really would have sucked.

Thanks for an excellent game, but please fix this bug!

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Happened again. This time I got a screenshot and put it on my web page:

http://www.sutekh137.net/laco_stuck.jpg

Can't play, right from the start, and yet game does not end. Would have had a second-place score for the day, too.

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Sorry about that JoeK, I will see if I can include better pieces when new stage starts.

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tonypa,

Wow, the master himself! *smile*

You could either make sure at least one good piece is included at the start, or just trigger "the end". I don't mind starting with a no-play, as sometimes the board is just that crowded, and luck is luck. The only problem is not being able to have the game end so the score can be recorded. I suppose a "quit now" button would also suffice, though that wouldn't be very elegant for the interface.

As luck would have it, I just had another no-play-from-the-start at a score of 521. Drat. I really appreciate seeing the creator of the game paying attention and taking pride, though. I won't forget that as I recommend new games and game designers to people!

Sincerely,
JoeK

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Hey all,

I doubt anyone even will read this, and I haven't had the issue in a long time, but the dreaded "stuck" still happens:

Stuck (click to see picture...)

The version of the game appears to be newer than when I had the problem before (v 7-2011), and, as I said, I haven't gotten stuck in ages -- so I assumed it had been fixed. Sadly, not the case. Here I thought I was starting out great for the week scoring over 700 but now I can't record the score...

Thanks,
JoeK

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