I'm an aspiring sort, so I spend most of my days determined to get invited to gaming's chin-stroking intelligentsia. "Of course I like city building games," I will say when asked at a cheese and wine soiree, despite the fact my usual encampments tend to end up as unprofitable deathtraps within twenty minutes, my virtual citizens scrambling with panic and fear as the streets burn. Of course I like them, then, just don't ask me to tell you how to actually play them.
But everyone's qualified to blabber on about match-three games, aren't they? Bejeweled is, like, a piece of cake. Even your Mum has the odd go on Blitz, and she probably posts better scores than you. That's the catch-all sensibility behind Triple Town, which presents you all the posturing delight of building a virtual city while dressing the process in comforting match-three clothes.
It's simple. Plop down three bits of grass and you'll get a hedge, and whack a trio of hedges together to have them transform into a tree. Three trees make a house, and it goes on and on all the way up to a massive fancy castle. Your new objects always transmogrify at the spot you place down the third piece, so there's a big tactical focus on thinking dozens of moves ahead, and this is accompanied by the inevitable agonising frustration of dropping a hedge in the wrong bloody spot.
Your next piece is randomised - unless you swap in-game currency for a particular wotsit - which means you'll need to think of contingency plans and hope that luck is on your side. This is especially pertinent when you're being squeezed for space, which happens pretty much all of the time. Occasional relief comes in the form of items that can be used to clear any single block off the map, or crystals that can automatically be used as the third item in any combination.
Just like in real life, you'll spend most of your time afraid of bears. Nature's fiercest predators occasionally turn up and occupy vital space on your grid, and must be blocked off so they starve and die, turning into gravestones in the process. Three gravestones make their own item - the church - though I'm not quite sure why the citizens of Triple Town choose to build their places of worship on the burial sites of their greatest enemies.
After a few dozen turns some bears will also train themselves in the ways of the ninja, and will hop around the map completely ruining your very best laid plans. Completely fill your modest 6x6 (not really much of an empire, is it?) grid with stuff and it's off to the Game Over screen, with a handful of fresh coins to spend on your next game and a numerical value to brag about on the Game Center leaderboards.
Some will be put off by the way developer SpryFox has chosen to monetise the game. Triple Town is free to download, but after a few thousand turns you're left with the conundrum of either waiting for more turns to (very) slowly recharge or buying unlimited turns using real money - this point has been insidiously timed to arrive just when you're starting to get good at the game, too. Then there's the option to purchase in-game currency, meaning it's possible to simply grow your own uber-settlement with money rather than skill.
There's not much more to Triple Town, but it's easy to get hooked into a gentle rhythm of item placement and the climbing satisfaction of watching your shrubbery transform into a glorious castle. This isn't the most complex game in the world, but when the time comes to invest £2.49 it's likely you'll have already worked out if Triple Town is your perfect match.