TopplePOP is an Aussie-made, physics-based Tetris-like that was on show at PAX Aus recently, and since we couldn’t have a live event for PAX Australia, that means streams! Lots and lots of streams.
At first glance it hits a lot of the same notes as Tricky Towers. But you’ll find the system of hanging from the ceiling and chucking pieces into place offers up some original dynamics that are a great mix of dexterity tests and strategy.
You can carefully coast down your bungee cord and place each piece with precision or you can fling pieces with abandon. Of course, if you can get good at throwing pieces so they land in the perfect spot at the perfect angle, this is ideal, but that’s a lot easier said than done. Especially if you’re in a PvP mode and they start sending over more blocks to interfere with your game plan.
A “shove” move allows you to propel your piece in a direction, manipulating the physics of the board so you can jam in a piece where it wouldn’t normally go or getting rid of an offending off-colour piece. You can also flip pieces around in place, which can also send adjacent pieces flying, for better or worse.
The progression of levels makes it even more wild. Once you’ve got the basics of the game down, it starts throwing cactus-like pieces at you that stick to everything, volcano levels with rising lava and ice pieces which require breaking before they can be used. It puts me in mind of some of the best-crafted indie games like Braid, which establish a basic idea and then use every “world” or level afterwards to screw with that idea in interesting ways.
Speaking to Kotaku AU, developer Dan Graf said, “We’re super proud to have a new demo available for everyone, and super proud that people were saying it was their PAX favourite. We’re also really happy that you can play together on the same screen in different houses, which can be important in these pandemic times.”
In the modern gaming landscape, where Early Access games are a Wild West of varying quality, it shows great confidence to make a demo and release it like this. It’s usually a great sign – I remember being sceptical of the price tag on Factorio, until I tried the demo. Then it was an instant buy. If they offer more content for money, that’ll be an instant buy, too.
TopplePOP is aiming to be both a fun game for folks sitting casually on the couch and a proper competitive game in the vein of modern Tetris and PuyoPuyo tournaments. For now, you can download the demo and see what high scores you can put up.