One of the foundations of puzzle games involves blocks. Lining up falling blocks. Matching blocks of similar colors. Getting the correct shapes into the proper space is a big deal. This might make someone look at a game like Madoris R, one of the latest puzzle games released on the Nintendo Switch eShop in Japan, and wonder what sets this one apart. Except here, developer Caerux has done something special. it has taken the blocks and applied it to the idea of an apartment complex, making the puzzle game a little more appealing.
Let’s start by explaining the name. Madoris R is a rather brilliant name. In Japanese, madori (間取り) refers to a floor plan or a layout for an apartment. Given that we are placing apartments in what appears to be a complex, with each block showing the arrangement of the rooms, kitchen and bathroom, it is incredibly apt. We are essentially preparing floor plans of the building as we place the blocks. Optimal arrangements will cause the apartments to change color and get rent prices assigned to them, translating into your score.
That the grid has desirability considered helps create a challenge while also sticking with the concept. The outer areas of the cube are easy to fill and place. It can be very easy to find rooms that will work in those spaces and they were more likely to be cleared when you complete a row, since there are so many of them. But the inner orange spaces are smaller and more desirable. You have less room to fill, the rooms are going to take longer to clear, and you will need to think smarter to clear them. Madoris R makes you shoot for that more valuable real estate space, in the name of getting a higher score and being placed in a more prominent “area” of Japan. (The game will list places like Gunma, Osaka and Tokyo as you reach certain rent totals as you play.)
This means Madoris R has a good excuse for its mechanics. An apartment unit will not disappear unless it is completely filled in with a color. If you only clear one line, there is a good chance the only sort of home that would be cleared is the four block narrow one that has a living space and bathroom. If you clear two lines at once, then you could get rid of cubes, rectangles, L-shaped units and other awkward designs. Once you start hitting the Osaka levels of stages, you could have 8×8 places you need to try and work into your floorplan. It makes plan ahead when creating, since you know certain sorts of units will come when you hit location plateaus, only have so much TNT to work with and have to have lines that you know you can clear, if needed.
Speaking of commentary, I really feel the way in which Madoris R uses terminology to note your current progress also keeps it authentic. Your score is referred to as the rent you have collected. When you first start out, say in Gunma, you might be a local boss. But as you collect higher rents, in so doing proving your proficiency, you could become a chief clerk or deputy general.
Madoris R really sticks to its theme. This puzzle game relies on the concept of completely clearing buildings to make you think about strategically position and leave space for apartment units. It uses the idea of property value to provide excuses for certain areas of the grid being more valuable than others. It refers to its score as collected rent and assigns you different roles in the project depending upon on successful you have been as you played through the game. It all comes together quite well. And, since it involves no text and is instead about placing apartment units in appropriate places, it also is an import anyone can enjoy.