Platform: Web browser, mobile
Release Date: N/A
Developer: Gabriele Cirulli
I hated Gabriele Cirulli the moment I found out he was 19. I hated him even more after I spent several frustrating hours mashing the up, down, left and right arrows on my keyboard in a vain attempt to reach the eponymous 2048. While I am wasting my life trying to win fiendishly difficult games, my fellow 1994 brethren is the one programming them.
2048 is based around a devilishly simple concept: using the arrow keys, you slide pieces around a 4×4 grid. Every movement sends the tiles as far as they will go in a given direction, and then a 2 – or sometimes a 4 – will randomly spawn on the board. Sliding two of the same number into each other gives you the next power of two: so, two 4s combine into an 8, and two 16s give you 32. 2048, can therefore only be achieved through forcing identical 1024 squares to bump in the same place, at the same time. The tiles change colour as their value increases, and for added aesthetic appeal the very high-value ones emit a glow around them.
Besides this, there is also a “score” which increases every time you combine tiles by the value of the new tile created. However, it only tracks total aggregates; a game which gets to 512, or even 1024, in a few beautifully elegant moves, will give you a lower score than a long slog through merging 8s left, right and centre.
A cursory glance around the internet reveals I’m not the only person struggling. Yahoo! Finance uploaded a guide to it, which makes me worry for the productivity of any businessman who reads Yahoo! Finance. There are bots to hack it, and hints on how to achieve victory, but they rather take the fun away from it. Trying to ‘play to win’ infuriated and saddened me, while randomly flinging tiles into each other with a sort of reckless glee proved far more amusing.
Like any web browser game, 2048 is not meant to be played extensively or seriously. It is casual internet gaming at its finest: elegant, thought-provoking and addictive. After all, what other game would I discover through a friend posting ecstatically on another friend’s Facebook wall, smugly announcing his victory over two to the power of eleven?