Square Enix moves into mobile with Qwirkle and Motley Blocks

It's not all Final Fantasy and AAA console blockbusters for Square Enix any more. Over the past year, the company has made an aggressive push into the mobile games market, both with original titles and ports of its more popular existing IPs.

One of the company's most recent endeavors is Qwirkle, a digital adaptation of MindWare's tile-based board game. Coming to iOS, Android, and Facebook, Qwirkle lets players challenge themselves solo or try to up their friends' scores in a Scrabble-esque battle played with shapes and colors. Players are given tiles, which must be lined up according to the color and shape of the symbol on them. The first player to get six of one shape or six shapes of the same color in a row earns points.

Unlike its board game predecessor, Qwirkle includes board power-ups like score triplers and turn-switchers. The game also support cross-platform play, allowing players roaming on their iPad to challenge friends sitting at home on Facebook. Play accumulates Qwirkle points, which can be spent to unlock new boards and power-ups.

Qwirkle was not always on Square's table. The story goes that one of the company's legal heads took the game home one weekend, up to a woodsy cabin for a family getaway. After playing the game nonstop with his children, he decided to pursue publication for the mobile title. Now Square is both producing and publishing Qwirkle¸ and it's due out soon.

Also among the games pushing out from Square's Los Angeles-based mobile games team is Motley Blocks, a simple yet addicting little game that presents more of a challenge than meets the eye. A tornado of scattered multicolored blocks rotates slowly before the player, who has three rotations to empty the screen of blocks. Players tap and swipe the touchscreen to draw lines between same-colored blocks, aggregating as many into a string as possible.

As levels are cleared, the blocks rotate faster, more colors are added, and power-up blocks are introduced which double your score and explode all other blocks in a given area. Successfully gathering all blocks reveals a blocky object similar to something out of Minecraft.

Motley Blocks, also due out soon, will come with 50 different maps, with the premium edition — which assumedly costs more, though Square hasn't announced any price details so far — offering 80 levels. The game also includes a level editor, allowing players to build their own block pictures for other players to test their skills against. Players can also see how they stack up against others in global online leaderboards.

These mobile titles add simpler, bite-sized experiences to Square Enix's current mobile line-up, which is currently packed with heavy role-playing titles like Chaos Rings, Imaginary Range, and ports like The World Ends With You and Final Fantasy III. These smaller titles may sit in the shadows of Agent 47 and Lara Croft, but they show Square's awareness of the current mobile market's taste for tidbits best consumable on morning commutes and shared with friends.

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