Review: 2048 (3DS eShop)

4x4 for fun

It should not be surprising any more when a mobile game gets ported over to a Nintendo platform. It happened with high-profile smart device mainstays Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, and we've also seen it with several lesser-known games as well. The latest title to continue this trend is the massively popular tile-sliding puzzle game 2048 and, once again, it feels like a perfect portable fit on the 3DS.

If you're unfamiliar with 2048, a quick history lesson is in order. This addictive puzzler was originally a browser game that was later ported to iOS and Android devices, a familiar path that many games follow today. Despite both its simplicity and seeming originality, it is actually a slightly altered clone of a game called Threes! which had released on iOS devices a month prior. Differences from its very new predecessor aside, 2048 took a lot of flack from the gaming community derived from both displeasure with its obvious source and the fact that fans were playing this game and remaining completely unaware of the existence of Threes! in the first place. Moral grey areas aside, 2048 is still a worthy addition to any puzzle fan's collection, especially in the absence of Threes! on the 3DS eShop.

Drawing influence from sliding puzzles, the goal in 2048 is to move numeric tiles across a 4x4 grid and combine them into increasing numbers. The game starts out small, beginning with tiles marked with 2 and 4, but once you start matching and combining, the numbers increase exponentially. Each move that you make causes every tile on your board to slide in the direction that you send them and a new tile to appear. Your goal is to keep sliding and building larger numbers to increase your score, but it's all over when your board is completely filled and you've locked yourself into an unmovable position. There are three games to be played – all of which have the same gameplay and board but require different scores to be reached in order to complete – and several achievements to unlock. Truthfully, no matter which mode you play, it's always the same concept and these extra options are little more than a façade to give an otherwise straightforward and shallow game a little more depth.

The game may be based around numbers and multiplication, but it's really just about matching tiles. Because of this, what would seem like a complicated endeavour actually makes for a very user-friendly experience that is accessible to gamers of all ages. The controls are also very accommodating, allowing you to use the console's D-Pad, Circle Pad, lettered buttons, or even the touchscreen to play. This isn't the type of game that requires any precision or speed from its inputs, so any control scheme that you feel comfortable using works just as well as the next.

As 2048 can be controlled using touch – not unlike on its original mobile format – the game board is displayed on the 3DS's bottom screen. The same board is also reflected on the top screen, but it instead boasts an isometric view that makes use of the console's 3D display. The top display adds life to the otherwise flat and exceedingly bland visuals, but it also tends to overcomplicate things. As your numbers increase, the blocks that they rest on grow taller. This provides a helpful visual to help illustrate your growing score, but it also hinders your vision by blocking the tiles that lay behind. It's refreshing to see a developer take an otherwise stale element of its game and try to give it more appeal, but in this case it ends up being more of a hindrance than anything else.

There's not much else that can be said about 2048. The experience is shallow, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one worth having. It's a very modest game that revels in its simplicity and thrives on its addictive nature. This is the type of game that, even after missing the high score 10 times in a row, it’ll still have you saying "just one more try."


2048 isn't the most exciting or visually stimulating game on the 3DS eShop, but it does provide some of the most satisfying pick-up-and-play action around. As a highly successful mobile game, it'll come as no surprise if most players have already given it a try, but those puzzle fans who haven't should definitely put this one under consideration. Need something new to do while sitting on the bus, train, or toilet? 2048 is fun, quick, and just distracting enough to keep you occupied for hours at a time.

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