ZONR is a shining example of what a small mobile game should be
ZONR is a rare treat. It’s a game so intuitive that it doesn’t even require instructions, yet so challenging that you’ll find yourself cursing out loud at your inability to do the one simple task it asks of you. It’s colourful, fast-paced, perfect for quick gameplay bursts, and nearly impossible to put down. Oh – and did we mention it’s free?
The object of ZONR couldn’t be more straight forward. You’ll take a look at the shapes-filled puzzle in front of you and click on the largest shape in the group. Once you do, that puzzle will slide out of view and the next will come in, asking you to do the same thing. You’ll do this over and over again until your 90 seconds is up, hopefully setting a new high score (and quickly mashing the retry button if you didn’t).
Sounds simple, right? Well the best games usually do. And like the best games, that simple premise belies the game’s incredible level of challenge. When things start out, ZONR is a cake walk. In fact, the first puzzle you’re presented with only contains two shapes. How hard could it possibly be to find the largest of two shapes? Keep finding the right shapes, though, and your multiplier will go up. As your multiplier goes up, so does the density of the puzzles. Within seconds you’ll be looking at a dozen shapes. Then two dozen. Then more. The better you perform, the more challenging the game becomes.
Make a mistake and that multiplier will take a hit. If that happens too often, that multiplier will get smaller and your level of challenge will shrink with it. And while you might not think it now, we promise – you’ll make mistakes. Plenty of them.
Because the human eye so naturally picks out the largest shape in a group, the game ends up moving much faster than you might expect. You’ll be moving so fast that tripping up and picking the wrong shape is inevitable. You’ll get so deep in the zone, or “zonr,” I suppose, that it becomes all too easy to miss the right shapes as you’re tapping your iPhone like a madman. What’s great is that the frustration you end up feeling isn’t with the game, but with yourself for buying too heavily into your bravado.
The presentation in ZONR is basic, yet perfect for what’s on offer. In a game where you’re frantically searching to find something in nanoseconds, the last thing you want is a lot of clutter. In addition to the basic pink/blue/orange color scheme, the game has a number of themes that can be unlocked through play – some of which actually ramp up the difficulty. For example, there’s a colorless option where all of the shapes are white. And believe me, your eyes will have a much harder time finding the biggest rectangle when everything is the same color.
Having followed this game during its pre-release, the biggest surprise about ZONR came not in its look or its gameplay, but in its sound. Judging by his developer diary, KlickTock’s Matthew Hall was more than a month into production on ZONR before he’d begun to nail down what to do with the soundtrack, and yet you’d never know that from listening. In fact, you’d think that the music was a part of the game from day one. The beat provides a perfect companion to the gameplay, keeping players in rhythm to such a degree that I’d almost call this a music game. Every tap you make creates a different musical note – it’s like being a part of the soundtrack.
ZONR is, for lack of a better word, exquisite. Offering quick sessions, intuitive gameplay, and fast-paced, challenging fun, it’s the epitome of what a mobile game should be. And better yet, it’s free. If you’re looking for your next mobile addiction, this is it.