Fortress Hands-On

Majesco's GBA puzzle game has you stacking Tetris-style blocks to build a fortress capable of destroying your enemies. We recently got a chance to sit down with an early build of the game to see how Fortress stacks up.

Fortress is a puzzle game that's an odd combination of real-time strategy elements and the classic block-stacking formula of Tetris. Your objective is to build a large fortress out of blocks that fall from the sky, creating platforms for weapons and routes for your soldiers and eventually building a fortress powerful enough to destroy your enemy. We recently had the chance to sit down with an early build of the game to see the game's unique formula firsthand.

The basic formula of Fortress is reminiscent of the classic Atari arcade game Rampart. Tetris-style blocks fall from the sky, and you have to place them strategically to build a fortress. As you build, the blocks that you place will form various parts of your fortress. Depending on how large your fortress is, you'll eventually receive weapon emplacements and soldiers to help you complete your ultimate objective: to destroy the neighboring fortress. Unfortunately, the build that we played was very early, and most of the weapons and soldiers weren't in the game yet. Still, we got a fairly good feel for how the final game will play.

At the start of the game you'll get to place the door to your fortress. This is essentially the heart of your castle, and if it's destroyed, you'll lose the game. Once you place the door to your fortress you'll be able to drop new pieces to expand your building. In this build we actually had to press downafter we placed each piece to start the next piece. This really broke up the flow of the game and made it so the action was never really hectic. As you build certain areas you'll be awarded with soldiers and weapon emplacements--these units drop exactly like the other blocks in the game, and you'll have to find a suitable home for them inside your fortress. Once placed, the weapons and soldiers will automatically start attacking the enemy. As you place blocks the game will actually start texturing them to match your fortress and will create different rooms and textures to make your fortress look real. At this point in the build we played it wasn't immediately obvious how to control your soldiers, and it wasn't clear what exactly creates the weapons and soldier units. Additionally, there was no enemy to attack in this version, and my fortress never fell under attack. In the final version of the game the enemy will actually be attacking you as you build, and you'll have to drop blocks to repair the parts of your fortress that have been damaged.

The game has four visual styles. You can choose to play with a caveman, pirate, space, or medieval tileset at the start of each game. The tilesets affect what sort of weapons and soldiers you get in the game but don't have any real effect on the gameplay. At this point the graphics are very clean but simple. The action isn't too complex, and there's not much variation in the fortress textures. There wasn't any sound in the build we played, so we were unable to gauge how the final product will sound.

At this point Fortress seems like it has the potential to be an interesting game for the generally stale puzzle genre. With a simple premise and what could turn out to be very addictive gameplay, Fortress will definitely help strengthen the lineup of games available at the US launch of the Game Boy Advance.

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