We here at Jay is Games love us some match-3 action. We also just so happen to love the works of prolific developer, Tonypa. So what happens when you throw the two together? A heaven made pairing not unlike the greats such as Eminem and 50 cent, Goose and Maverick, and anchovies and blueberry jam.
In Turnellio, Tonypa manages to apply his own twist to the well-explored genre in order to breathe some life and individuality into it. In standard match-3 games, you change the location of tiles that themselves never really change. Here, you don't change the location, but the tiles themselves. Each tile can face in one of four directions (up, down, left, and right), and you can rotate each tile ninety degrees clockwise by simply clicking your mouse on it. Get three or more tiles lined up in the same direction horizontally or vertically, and they disappear giving you points and progressing you to the next level. Easy, right?
Well, there are a few obstacles to contend with as you go along. For one, gaps will develop in the grid across which matches can't be made. The only way to get rid of these nuisances is to drop them to clear out the tiles beneath them, effectively dropping the gaps out of play.
Also, by now I'm sure it has occurred to some of you that much of the challenge in the game can be removed you just keep rotating tiles until something happens. Yes, you can do this, but every time you turn a tile without making a match, another tile gets locked and can't be rotated. Lock up all the tiles on screen, and your game is over.
Analysis: Turnellio is match-3 the way only Tonypa could do it. All of the trademarks are there, from the exotic title to the simple but attractive graphics to the infectious back track all of which surrounding engrossing gameplay.
The brilliance of Tonypa's continued works is that he conceives simple yet original gameplay ideas and instead of overexposing them, under using them, or misusing them, he distills games around them so that they are allowed to meet their full potential. In this most important aspect is Turnellio like the rest of its developer's games.
The twist at work here, rotating the tiles instead of relocating them, is one of those ideas that is so simple it's almost unbelievable it hasn't been explored up until now. And while the adjustment seems rather small, it's just big enough to rekindle an ebbing interest in match-3 games. Like Zerosum, Turnellio's departure from the match-3 standard gives it the capacity to get you hooked on it all over again. Even more interesting is that Turnellio offers compelling gameplay without the gaudy power-ups and special moves that modern match-3 games often resort to. Yes, you can build some impressive combos, but don't look for the special attack button that lets you clear half a board; you don't get one, and really, the game doesn't need it.
Turnellio is also not the most challenging game ever conceived, which is a double edged sword. The game is not timed, meaning you never have to think fast, and while the locking of tiles does act as a punishment for randomly clicking on tiles, I don't think it is a fast enough acting punishment. Gaps and locked tiles are the only real obstacles you have to face in Turnellio, and they don't really accrue so quickly that you can't cope with them. Because Turnellio isn't all that difficult, it definitely makes it more readily accessible to gamers of all types and abilities, but those looking for a good challenge may be disappointed.
Outside of that, there's little to jeer, and much to cheer about Tonypa's take on a casual gaming staple. With beat poet like coolness (okay, maybe the finger snapping sound effect is sticking with me too much), he offers up his own twists and garnishes them with his penchant for quiet elegance. The result is a game that keeps the heart and inherent fun of match-3 games while experimenting with new and intriguing territory.