Archive for the ‘Match-3’ Category

Lt. Fly Rise of the Arachnids

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Lt Fly

Don’t pass up this Match-4/Shooter hybrid, even if you despise Match-3 games, because it definitely stands on its own with regard to gameplay and innovation. The play field consists of a block grid on the left and an open area on the right, which allows for all sorts of creepy spiders to deal death from above by careening downward on their silken threads. Tapping on the war zone fires a weapon from a centralized cannon, which requires ammunition. Ammo is obtained by completing matches on the block grid and causing ammo blocks to drop off the bottom of the screen. Completing certain achievements unlocks other temporary weapons that are fueled by matching blocks of the same color. When you fill the corresponding bar, tapping the bar opens a weapon wheel used to select the flamethrower, laser, and mud cannon, among others. Managing your ammo and weapons is a big part of the gameplay, as are the powerups. The powerups have you flipping over the iPhone to change gravity, shaking it to stun enemies, and snipping spider silk by swiping laterally. The pacing is fast and furious, the challenge is well-tuned, and the artwork is quite nice, as well. This one is definitely worth a look.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Sword & Poker

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sword & Poker

Prior to PuzzleQuest, I most likely would have told you that an RPG/Match-3 hybrid would be ridiculous, but it was awesome. Well, Gaia Co. LTD. chose an RPG/Poker hybrid as their first US game release and it too makes for a fun game. Each encounter begins with a 3×3 layout of pre-seeded cards on a 5×5 grid. The player looks at their hand of 4 cards and chooses 2 to put on either end of a 3-card row. This column, row, or diagonal line of cards is then scored as a normal Poker hand (pair,  2 pair, 3 of a kind, etc.) Points scored from the hand damage the opponent, who happens to be a monster. You see, the player enters a dungeon, making simple decision as to which route to take and then encounters a monster to play poker against. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? After exiting the dungeon, the cash earned from winning battles can be spent on equipment and such. This gear will improve the player’s abilities in combat. Abilities matter too, whether it be weapon damage multipliers, a fatter sack *ahem*, or a shield to mitigate damage. Magic spells can be equipped, as well, to perhaps sway the battle in your favor. The card play can be relatively interesting, with all of these variables in play. Denial is an important tactic too, since the hands are in open view, you will oftentimes want to forego your big move to block an even bigger one from the opponent. While the core gameplay is addictive and fun, it can sometimes devolve into when to chuck your cards and pass your turn, because the big combos that score multiple rows are generally seen near the end of the match. I can’t fault the developers, though, because they came up with a pretty original game here that has a ton of replay-value as the player levels up their character. The art, soundtrack, and gameplay evoke a wonderful, if somewhat quirky, theme and everyone that plays it, loves it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Chuzzle

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Chuzzle

Popcap is a driving force in the casual game market and their games have proven to be a perfect fit for the iPhone platform. Chuzzle continues that fine tradition and, in my view, plays even better than its computer driven brethren. It is a match-3 game played on a grid filled with adorably fuzzy little creatures one can assume are called Chuzzles. What sets this title apart is that entire rows and columns are shifted by the player in order to create matches of 3 or more. While this initially feels like a constraint to players of Bejeweled 2, for instance, it can actually provide a sense of freedom, because matches can be made in any configuration, as long as the Chuzzles are adjacent. The game can sometimes run long, but it is a nice way to pass the time. My kid likes it too. You may want to wait for it to “do a Peggle”, though (come down in price).

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Dark Harvest

Friday, October 16th, 2009

This is a Bust-a-Move clone in which the mass of balls (say it 3x fast!) reacts to physics and spins. The artwork is really nice and moody, the story and theme is a nice change of pace, and the soundtrack is good. Unfortunately, for me, it just didn’t nail the fun factor. I felt that the role that skill played was too minor. It allows players to post bragging rights on facebook.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Flipside

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

This developer was obviously unimpressed with the sea of Match-3 clones on the app store that bring nothing new to the table. Their solution? Two-sided Match-3! Your AI opponent is playing a game on the backside or your map, so you have to be careful not to unintentionally make more matches for him or her than you do for yourself. Prior to play, I was worried that it would be too hard to identify the symbols on the back and it is, at first, but you do get used to it. I like it; not everyone will.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Lumines – Touch Fusion

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Diehard Lumines fans, please look away, you wont like what you’re about to see…or read, I guess. The original was brilliant, but the controls on this version are abysmal and anyone that knows this game also knows that the pacing is frantic and near-perfect controls are necessary. You will constantly be rotating a piece instead of moving it, dropping a piece that you have yet to rotate, and cursing loudly. FAIL. Stay away until they fix it.

Update: They fixed it, apparently. New rating to come.

Unify

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

A very minimal design that offers an interesting twist on Tetris; blocks appear from both sides, are controlled by two thumbs, and meet in the center when they “drop”. I think the color combinations you run into later are bit heinous, but the game is fun and challenging. $1 This rating may go up.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Bumble Tales

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Great soundtrack, art, and effects. What strikes me most about the game is that it just feels right; it is the synergy between the aforementioned qualities that does it. The upgrades don’t amount to much, as there is little creativity there, but I don’t think it matters really. They do allow you to have one personality ability active and you can trigger special powers from the buildings you have purchased. The whole game is extremely polished with extensive character profiles that unlock and trophies and such. Very professional effort.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Magical Drop Touch

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I love, love, love the arcade version Magical Drop, which is where I suggest everyone go to play it, because the controls here are nowhere near as responsive as they need to be in order to combat the furious pacing of this game. I have played every single Magical Drop clone on the app store and this is the best version, because all of the characters and sounds are there, but I can’t recommend it, because the sluggish controls are a deal-breaker.

Match 3D Flick Puzzle

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

This not-so-cleverly-named game is getting a big fan base, but I think it is mostly due to its novelty. It’s a very basic Match-3 game, but it plays out on all six faces of a cube, simultaneously. I pictured setting up and triggering massive combos across multiple faces, but unfortunately in practice, there is very little visible interaction between the faces. Manipulating the cube works okay, with a finger flick reorienting the cube face flat to the screen. If you run out of matches, you can tap the wireframe cube to drill down to the internal layers as well. It also has a hideously rendered color-blind mode, not pictured here. Again, there are much better Match-3 games out there, but this one is novel.