Dots

Having epilepsy sucks.  Between Jerry and I, we rolled off eight straight days of new reviews here, a new record for Indie Gamer Chick.  Then I got absolutely obliterated over the weekend by a spell, and wasn’t fully recovered by time the next spell hit on Wednesday.  I’ve had no coordination.  I’ve been sleeping a ton (cause for alarm for anyone who knows me).  I almost checked myself into the hospital under suspicion of brain damage after finding myself enjoying Duck Dynasty.

Mostly, I was pissed at not being able to play the games I planned on doing for Indie Gamer Chick.  Then I realized that I had been spending my recovery putting a sickening amount of time into a simple, addictive little iPhone game called Dots.  Before I get to the game itself, I have to browbeat the developers for a bit.  Dots?  Seriously?  You put all that effort into making a really fun game and Dots was the best you could come up with?  It’s appropriate the game is on mobile because you guys totally phoned it in with that name.

Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah. Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah.

Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah. Connect the dots. Nanna nanna nah.

So the basic idea is you have a 6×6 grid of colorful dots that you have to link together to score points.  If you are able to link colors in the shape of a box, it clears all of that color (and any extra dots trapped inside the box).  There are two modes: one where you have sixty seconds and one where you have thirty moves.  Like Bejeweled and its ilk, Dots relies as much on luck of the draw as on anything resembling skill or cognitive thinking.  Because of that, it’s not deeply rewarding.  I look at those pricks on the high score board and think, nay, KNOW that they not only used all the premium boosters, but still have the luckiest board to work with you could hope for.  When it comes to randomness in games, I’m not lucky.  The only time I beat the odds is when doing so works against my favor.  If I was to play Russian Roulette with a special revolver that had 10,000 chambers, one of which was loaded, I guarantee you that Jerry would be writing my obituary.

So why have I been hooked on a game that is based almost entirely on luck?  I can’t even really explain it.  Dots is almost hypnotic in its simplistic pleasure.  Part of it is the sound effects.  The chimes that grow louder as you string together longer lines, which creates a soothing STOP LAUGHING AT ME!  I’m serious!  This is like getting a sensual massage in your ears.  Plus, I kept playing hoping for that off-off-off chance of me getting onto the global leaderboard.  Actually, these guys could really suck people in by making a separate leaderboard for games where no boosters were used.  Of course, doing so would probably discourage people from buying the boosters, but still.  You can grind up money to spend on the bonuses, two of which can be used once each per game.  Add extra time (or five extra moves in 30 move mode) and clear all dots of a color are pretty effective, but the clear-all color booster is very spendy.  There’s also a booster that allows you to remove a single dot from the grid, which might open up a run of square-making.  None of them are necessary to enjoy the game.  In fact, it was days before I used my first one.  But, you probably do need them to have any remote hope in Hell of making the Leaderboards.  Again, there should have been more.

IMG_0139I’ve been stuck at my house for almost a week now.  In that time, I’ve been a bump on a log, watching marathons of House or Dexter with my boyfriend.  But, I suspect that Dots is the perfect “play it while waiting in line” game.  That’s what mobile games should be about.  Hypothetically, that’s what the best handheld games should be too.  Sure, epic RPGs have a place on your Vitas and 3DSs, but what about games that take advantage of the best thing handhelds exist for: killing time when you’re waiting for shit away from home?  Phones have completely conquered that market.

It’s a shame that Nintendo and Sony have given up so much ground to the cellular industry in the time-wasting department.  Games like Dots, not to mention abysmal sales of really good pieces of hardware like Vita, make me wonder why they even bother anymore.  The Vita and 3DS are essentially hand-held versions of recent consoles, and their libraries reflect that.  Maybe the era of the dedicated handheld gaming device really is over.  I mean, yeah, it’s cool that you can play Ocarina of Time while waiting for the bus.  But you have to spend $40 for that, not to mention buying an expensive piece of hardware that really doesn’t have any other functions to do so.  Meanwhile, the device I play Dots on can also play movies, Netflix, anything off my DirecTV, and music.  I can use it as a GPS, as a calculator, as a camera that doesn’t take crappy low-resolution pictures.  I check my stocks on it, or the weather, or movie showtimes.  I can tweet from it, or update my Facebook, or browse the internet.  I can send text messages and emails, or unlock my car door with it.  Oh, and make phones calls too.  Really, Nintendo and Sony, no matter how cool the technology in your gaming devices are, they’re still mechanical relics from a bygone era.  I would tell you to get with the times, but Sony is charging an arm and a leg for a couple measly gigs worth of memory cards and Nintendo is.. well.. Nintendo.  The times are not something they’re going to be getting with anytime soon.

DotsSeal of Approval LargeDots was developed by Betaworks

Dots is Free to Play, and Chick-Approved

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