Developer: Engaging Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

15 Coins enters the crowded arena of minimalist, challenging arcade games that descend from Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon. But by sticking to minimalist principles to create the emergent complexity that makes these games fun, it largely succeeds at what it sets out to do.

15_coins_presskit_image615_coins_presskit_image715 Coins has players controlling the clockwise and counterclockwise turning of a constantly-moving triangle around an arena with the goal being to collect 15 coins, which randomly appear throughout the arena, as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, clones sporadically appear that travel along the routes the player has taken – and colliding with them is game over. However, a power-up square can be collected that freezes the clones in place and eliminates them on contact for a limited amount of time, much like Pac-Man, though there’s no visual indicator of when the power-up expires. That’s the entirety of the game.

Of course, that leaves off how challenging it can be. The clones become agents of chaos, but ones that the player dictated at some point. It’s a perfect example of minimalism: it takes a simple concept and turns it into something with emergent complexity. The visuals are basic, but effective.

15 Coins has an interesting difficulty pacing. Easy is not necessarily the easiest difficulty because of how slow it is. It’s easier to navigate, but part of what helps me succeed is to eliminate clones, as having too many alive at once makes things pretty much impossible to manage.

15_coins_presskit_image3Thus, I think the difficulties are some what misnamed. Easy has players moving so slowly that this is not a viable strategy, where Medium and Hard have the player moving quickly enough that they can get to other clones and take them out in short order. Hard has players turning and moving fast enough that it’s challenging to go where one needs to. Thus, Medium might just be the easiest difficulty because it balances out “slow enough to turn accurately” with “fast enough to reach clones to eliminate them.”

Yet, maintaining the strategy of both speedy coin collection and clone containment is a challenge no matter what, and the game has just enough chaos and skill to be quite the entertaining combination. I do fear that the margins for fast times are incredibly thin, which hurts the replay value in my eye. I’d be curious to see how well an endless mode would work. The mitigation of item collection and enemy management is similar to Super Crate Box, but 15 Coins‘ chaotic movement would make it not become a slog over long periods of time.

15 Coins is a rather intriguing game that I have fun playing, and a fantastic example of how minimalistic, challenging arcade games should be done.


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