Many puzzle games come along
that look like other puzzle games. Sometimes the cosmetic change is pointless beyond not
infringing on an already held franchise. In fact, most of the time, thats the
reason. However, sometimes a game comes along that significantly alters a pre-existing
format. That is the case with Majescos latest puzzle game, Fortress. It does more
than just rhyme with Tetris it is a strange blend of Tetris and Scorched Earth.
you dont know what Tetris is. Im kidding, but maybe you really dont know
what Scorched Earth is. Scorched Earth is the grandfather of games like Worms, and
involves lobbing mortar fire from one base to another. It is an old game, ported to many
systems and found in many varieties, but usually played on a two dimensional background
with immobile bases. Fortress combines the idea of lobbing bad things at an enemy base
with the building involved in Tetris, and in doing so creates an addictive, unique
In Fortress you choose a time period (Prehistoric, Medieval, Pirate, or Space)
and game mode. You can either play one level at a time in the Battle mode or go through
the whole gamut in the Tournament mode. You may also play against a friend in either mode.
The games are point-oriented, and you score points, or lose points, by building on your
fortress, damaging your opponents fortress, or taking damage to your fortress.
Each game begins with a period of expansion and building. You place your
barracks and pieces of your fortress, trying to expand across the screen toward your
opponent. You also try to drop pieces into alignment so they will merge, becoming
stronger, and sometimes even special, portions of your stronghold. In addition to the
standard Tetris-shaped blocks, you must place weapons and defensive or regenerative
elements. After the alotted building time, the battle sequence starts.
Throughout battle you continue to build onto your fortress. You must keep up
your defenses and place new offenses throughout the game. You can create special elements,
such as a wizards tower, by building different structures with your blocks. In
addition to all the chaos you are (at least somewhat) in control of, there are
environmental factors to contend with. In all, there is a lot of activity on the screen,
and it takes awhile to get the hang of the game. Once you do catch on, however, it is a
lot of fun.
The biggest drawbacks in Fortress are not flaws with the gameplay itself.
Overall, this is a very solid game that can keep you sucked in for hours. However, once
you begin mastering Fortress, you cant help but want more. There are only four
levels to play on, which is nice at first. Each level has a different aesthetic and is
quite clever. It would be great to have more graphical themes. The gameplay also seems
limited by the score system. There should be other goals that could determine the outcome.
There arent enough different weapons. You can basically place the cannon, build a
wizards tower, or place an immediate, one-time, offensive block that will shoot one
of your workers over to wreak havoc on your opponent.
The bottom line on Fortress is this: If you are a fan of puzzle games, this is
a must-play. The intense action and great replayability will grab you instantly, and this
is undoubtedly a title that will help propel the evolution of puzzle gaming. However, I
for one hold out that the sequel will be even better and that this game doesnt quite
live up to its full potential. Fortress is worth the price, but not as timeless as the
other puzzlers weve come to know and love and see in our dreams.