What’s the proper protocol for dealing with an avalanche of aliens who take it upon themselves to moon you? Simple: You make them disappear. And disappear. And disappear.
Mooniz is a Match-3 puzzle game featuring adorable little beings that resemble gumballs with stubby arms and legs. The game’s mechanics work much in the way of typical Match-3 titles: when you espy a row of at least three critters who share the same color, you tap on them and make them vanish. However, Mooniz also provides a significant gameplay twist through the loose organization of its “game pieces.” The critters– called “Mooniz,” obviously– don’t sit politely in rows and wait for you to tap them three-at-a-time until you stumble on a lucky combo. No, success in Mooniz depends on combos: if you stick to clearing away three at a time, you’re destined to lose.
Packed like sardines.
The Mooniz spill from the top of the screen in all the colors of the rainbow, and pile at the bottom in a jumble. Your job is to tap the Mooniz, and any similarly-colored Mooniz touching that particular piece will vanish. As fast as you clear the Mooniz, more will pour in. The idea is to clear away the creatures as quickly as possible, using as large combos as possible. Acquiring high combos will earn you “Stars,” which are necessary for clearing the level. Every level requires you to earn a certain number of Stars in a certain amount of time. As you level up, the number of Stars required to clear a level will go up– and the time in which you have to earn those stars goes down.
Mooniz’s tight time limits and emphasis on scoring combos makes it a pretty frantic game. It’s not a puzzle game that requires you to put on your thinking cap, but neither can you just poke around the screen at random and hope to pass. As you play through the game, you learn to quickly spot the best ways to rack up combos, and you also learn the advantages of clearing away small groups of colors in order to make enormous combos that will earn you multiple Stars in the shortest amount of time.
Tumble in the rough.
And you’d better learn quickly, because Mooniz gets pretty difficult after only a level or two. The necessary Star counts climb, while the time limit drops, so prepare to lose. The good news is that you really do become adept at spotting patterns and thinking on your feet. The bad news is, if you screw up a level, it’s back to level one. It’s satisfying to ace old levels that previously gave you trouble as you climb your way back to the top, but doing it again and again is tedious.
There are power-ups that will help you along–sort of. The most common power-ups are grenades, which turn all connecting Mooniz into a certain color, and multipliers that help you tally up a high score. You can also use rare and extremely potent power-ups that let you nuke the screen of an entire color, or buy you more time, but for the most part, you have to buy these Tools of God through microtransactions.
Overall, though, Mooniz is a pretty satisfying game to play through. There’s nothing like touching one critter and watching his brothers go up in smoke while you earn yourself a fistful of Stars for the effort. The game could definitely benefit from some difficulty-balancing, but otherwise you’ll enjoy giving the rude little Mooniz a poke.