Fertang explores the ancient war between squares, triangles, and circles

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In the kingdom of Circlandia, the powerful circles used their might to intervene among the warring squares and triangles. Although an uneasy peace reigned for centuries, the kingdom prospered. Young triangles were raised and educated side-by-side with young squares. It looked as if ancient hatreds would be forgotten. But then one day the evil wizard Derounded invoked the diabolical rite of Fertang, summoning into the kingdom four tiles of unimaginable power. In the mad rush to control the tiles of power, the kingdom split into two warring factions, one worshipping the blue gods of Skyforce Olympus, the other in the service of Fell Reddite Imps. Who would prevail?

Okay, none of that stuff is in Fertang. Except for the name Fertang.

After the jump, Fertang?

There’s a rare purity to Fertang, an iPhone game that proudly declares itself halfway between chess and checkers, which is about a million miles from what most of us play anymore. Fertang has the theme-free simplicity of an algebra problem on a blackboard, unashamed of the fact that it’s mechanics and nothing but. Here is all the bald unburdened ancient tactics of Go. In a way, that’s kind of nice. These circles, squares, and triangles are just circles, squares, and triangles. They aren’t gophers, Egyptian gods, and elfs. They’re just shapes. When was the last time a game did that? Checkers? Even chess has the trappings of a medieval version of X-Com, but with a Euro boardgaming elegance and multiplayer support.

The mechanics are so simple that I’m going to — spoiler! — explain the entirety of Fertang with three points. 1) Squares move left, right, up, or down. 2) Triangles move diagonally. 3) Circles move in any direction. There. You have just learned Fertang. Except for the victory conditions. The idea is to capture and stack up the pieces so that you’re the guy to put the fifth piece on a stack. First player to three stacks wins. I guess I could tell you about the power squares in the corners, but I don’t want to overburden you with rules.

Of course, Fertang’s simplicity could be a liability. Does anyone still want bald unburdened ancient tactics? That’s the 99 cent question. But I love that someone is still making — and putting onto the iTunes store — something so barely this side of the theoretical stages. Fertang has about as much dressing as it can bear before becoming something else. You can change the color and texture of the board. You don’t even have to unlock the other boards or level up to equip them! But to be competitive, Fertang really needs to let us play against our Gamecenter friends. If it says “iOS”, it should also say “asynchronous multiplayer”. At least this is the sort of game AIs are built for.

You can’t save games, which is a real no-no for anything that can take longer than five minutes. And I don’t know what to make of the name. Is it just me, or does “Fertang” sound dirty? I’m afraid to look it up on Urban Dictionary. Every time I’ve been directed to Urban Dictionary because someone doesn’t want to tell me what something means, I’ve regretted it.

3 stars