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Piano Tiles review: A simple game that's tough to put down

A game that is currently dominating the most popular lists on both iOS and Android uses a simple concept that immediately sucks you in.

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Jason Parker
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Jason Parker

Senior Editor / Reviews - Software

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.

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Piano Tiles (iOS) or Don't Tap the White Tile (Android) are different names for the same game on the two major smartphone platforms. Having different names for the same app is a bit confusing, especially for a such a simple, but incredibly addictive touch game that requires lightning fast reflexes.

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8.3

Piano Tiles

The Good

Piano Tiles has simple controls, a charming soundtrack, and incredibly addictive gameplay.

The Bad

The piano sounds can be distracting while playing.

The Bottom Line

Piano Tiles is the perfect mix of simplicity and addictive gameplay that's easy to learn, but incredibly challenging to get high scores.

Piano Tiles is another runaway hit in the vein of popular games like Flappy Bird in that it came out a little while ago, but suddenly shot to the top of the App Store charts. After a couple of rounds, I quickly saw why, because it's so easy to learn, but getting high scores becomes something of a mini-obsession.

Tapping tiles is your new addiction (pictures)

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Same formula, different game modes

The basic concept behind Piano Tiles is simple. A grid with white and black tiles scrolls down your screen and your job is to touch all of the black tiles without making mistakes. As you hit tiles, you can here piano keys playing along with the action. It sounds easy, but with game modes that have you racing against the clock, and others that see how many tiles you can touch as they come at you faster an faster, it quickly grabs your attention.

The game comes with five different game modes including Classic, which challenges you to tap 50 black tiles in the shortest time possible. Arcade mode has you touching an endless onslaught of tiles that increase in speed the higher you get. Zen mode tests how many you can touch in 30 seconds. Rush challenges you to see how many you can tap per second. Finally, Relay has you tapping a minimum of fifty tiles in under ten seconds only to reset the clock so you can get another fifty.

All of the game modes have their own unique charm, but it's the solid gameplay concept that makes them so much fun.

The sound is not for everyone

With the volume on, as you touch tiles, piano keys play somewhat randomly in time with your taps. While they mostly follow the same scale, I heard a few sour notes peppered in that made me cringe -- and often lose the game as a result. It probably won't be a problem for everyone, but if you notice the sound is distracting, I recommend turning it off in the settings for a distraction-free experience.

The best games are the ones I don't expect

As a software and games reviewer, I expect certain games to do well in the App Store. When a new version of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope is released, I can be pretty confident both will reach the top 10. Similarly, with the games that have big production values like the Modern Combat games or Blizzard's Hearthstone, you know people are going to download them.

With single-developer games like Piano Tiles, you never know what combination of gameplay or graphics is going to capture the minds of players, but it's always amazing to see these simple yet strong concepts see such enormous success. It gives hope to every aspiring developer out there that with the right concept, they too can find success in the App Store. But it also gives hope to players like me, who can be pleasantly surprised to find a game nobody has thought of before, and have it be just the type of game that makes you say "just one more round."

Conclusion

Piano Tiles is a game you never would guess to reach the top 10, but it shows that there really is no predicting what people will like. With the right blend of simplicity and challenge, it doesn't necessarily matter whether the graphics are top notch or if the game comes from a big company -- the only thing that matters is if you can capture the right set of circumstances that make a game simple, but endlessly addictive.

Piano Tiles is that game. It's incredibly easy to pick up and play and hard to put down once you start. If you're looking for a simple time waster, this game has just the right mix of gameplay and challenge that will keep you coming back for more.

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8.3

Piano Tiles

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Interface 8Performance 9