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‘Threes!’ is your new mobile game addiction

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Let Flappy Bird fly into the sunset. There’s another game worth your attention, and it’s significantly smarter.

Not that you need big brains to get started playing Threes!, currently perched atop the iOS paid app chart ($1.99 for iPhone and iPad). You’ll just need a lot of time on your hands, because once you start, you won’t stop.

At a glance, Threes! looks like the bastard child of Sudoku and Bejeweled. Your task? Slide numbered tiles around a 4x4 grid by matching up multiples of three, creating greater tiles and, in turn, higher scores. Eventually you’ll get stuck with no numbers left to combine, at which point you’ll get a final tally based on what’s left on the board.

If it all sounds a bit too math-y, fret not. The core puzzle mechanics have nothing to do with number crunching, and you don’t actually need to know that 384 is a multiple of three to enjoy it. Its aesthetics are sleek and understated, but packed with character. Literally. Each number actually has a name and a voiceover: 6 ("Thumbert") is bored, 24 ("Tristine") is sleepy, and 192 ("ThreeJay") wears headphones. I’m not making this up.

The game comes from the three-person team (naturally) at indie developer Sirvo, who pulled a similar trick by breathing new life into Tetris with the exceptional puzzle game, Puzzlejuice. But Threes! is much more addictive. I’ve logged countless hours over the past week, urged to play not only by the strength of the game’s design but by my Twitter feed, which has been transformed into a Threes! highlight reel by my equally smitten and apparently much more talented friends. “Chris scored over 60,000? How is that even possible?” I ask the dog. And back into the fray I go.

It’s hard to say exactly what makes Threes! so compelling. It's a classic 'easy to learn, tough to master' sort of affair, which tends to carry over beautifully to mobile. The promise of building bigger numbers -- and seeing your score (and reputation) grow exponentially -- is a powerful lure. I can’t stop playing it. And unlike Flappy Bird, I don’t want to. It's iOS-only at the moment -- sorry, Android types -- but as long as it keeps raking in the dough, it only seems a matter of time before Threes! multiplies to other devices.

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