At first glance, RoboSockets by Tatem Games seems like just another generic Tetris/Dr. Mario clone, but in reality it’s one of the most original and fresh puzzle game concepts to yet grace the iPhone. You’re presented with a standard-looking puzzle grid that’s slowly filled with robots who are falling in from the top of the screen. Each robot has a variety of plugs on its sides, and you’ll have to arrange them in such a way as to connect five or more, which results in the robots blowing up so you can clear the screen and continue matching bots to get more points.
The strategy lies in setting up the robot drops in a way that allows you to keep lots of options open (robots with only one plug should be placed especially carefully) and avoiding piling up unconnected bots. Allowing the bots to stack up all the way to the top of the screen results in a game over.
On a purely aesthetic level, RoboSockets gets things right. The colorful pixel art, delightfully retro music, and all around well-done menus and animation make the game feel highly professional — much more so even than Tatem Games’ previous releases. I’m also really impressed with how incredibly well this game flows. The basic robot-matching gameplay is fun to tool around with, and the game’s power-ups (drill through an entire row of bots, drop a bomb, etc.) keep things interesting.
Up until I got to the fifth level of RoboSockets’ story mode, I was prepared to write a somewhat negative review of the game, which appeared at first glance to be ridiculously easy and shallow. Fortunately, I soon learned that the game was simply easing me into its numerous mechanics so as not to overwhelm me, so the worst thing I can say about the game is that it takes a tad too long to get going.
What’s the estimated shelf-life? With its decently lengthy campaign mode and potentially evergreen arcade and time attack modes, RoboSockets is one of those Tetris-style games that you’ll keep on your home screen for a long, long time to come.
If you like cleverly designed puzzle games with a decent amount of strategic depth, this is absolutely worth it.