As a website for kids, CoolMath has a lot of games with bright colors, flashy characters, explosions, peppy music, and all sorts of other bits of spectacle that are clearly designed to entice today’s little whippersnappers. But it also has some more mature, subdued games.
No, not those artsy, snobbish platformers with piano music playing over vague lines about the fragility of life—though I’m sure those are there—but 2048, a puzzle game from Gabriele Cirulli with muted colors, no music, and numbers.
The premise of this game is simple—slide tiles around a 4x4 grid by pressing the arrow keys. Tiles will slide as far as they can in the direction you press, and if two matching tiles bump into each other, they’ll combine to make a single tile of a larger value—so two “2” tiles would become a “4” tile, and two “4” tiles would become an “8” tile, and so on.
On paper, the goal is to repeat this process until you get a 2048 tile, but the game only ends when the board is filled up and there’s no possible moves, so in theory you can go much, much higher—like, 16384 and beyond.
Of course, if you’re like me, you’ll probably get that good ol’ game over screen when your highest-value tile is only in the triple digits.
See, this is a strategy game, where your next move must be carefully considered, often devising plans within plans just to ensure that you’re always several steps ahead…but I don’t have the patience for that, because I am dumb and like seeing flashy squares zip around the screen. Well, okay, I’m not against the odd strategy game here and there, but I don’t want to think when I boot this page up on my lunch breaks; that’s what my job is for, y’know?
So instead I just mash arrow keys and see what happens. I’ve heard that the strategy for this game is to stick to only a few directions, so I only mash two arrow keys, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
But even when it does, the game is so fast and simple that I always found myself clicking “try again” just to see how far my questionable decisions can take me.