Push Panic is a Match-3 puzzle game that will make you curse, mutter, and snarl– favorably. The rules are remarkably straightforward. Once you have them down pat, you’ll say, “Wait, that’s it?” And you’ll wonder how developer Barry Kostjens scraped up the chutzpah to sell a seemingly kindergarten-level exercise in color-matching as a game.
Once you’ve cleared the first level of Classic Mode, however, you’ll be humbled. Push Panic is no pushover. It calls for quick thinking and quicker reflexes. Multiple gameplay modes keep you from becoming bored, and the constant push to better your score will keep your eyes fastened to the iPhone.
Just when you think you’ve nailed everything Push Panic has to offer, Openfeint will assure you that you are in fact a pansy, and that all your friends are scoring higher than you. Are you going to take that?
To score in Push Panic, you must clear away the similarly-colored blocks that pour from the top of the screen. Touching a block marks it, and pushing a marked block again clears away all the blocks you’ve branded. Then you do it again, and again, until you’ve cleared away the requisite number of blocks to advance. Bonus blocks modify your score by letting you double your points, link block colors, or clear the screen with a bomb.
Send it to the mad house.
Needless to say, the further you advance in Classic Mode, the faster the blocks fall. The closer you let your block towers climb towards the green “Danger” line mid-screen, the more points you’ll score when you clear a group of blocks away. But if you let the blocks pile up too high, you risk letting them avalanche off-screen. If even one block slides off your pile and into limbo, it’s game over.
Push Panic has several different gameplay modes to keep you sweating and cursing. In Classic Mode, you score Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals depending on your score. Score Panic challenges you to achieve the highest score possible. In Color Panic, you must make sure less than eight blocks of the same color are onscreen at any one time. And Time Panic sets you to scoring as high as you can in 180 seconds.
Push Panic is best enjoyed in small drabs; frankly, the game’s speed and intensity isn’t anything you’d want to kick back and relax with. But that’s fine, because the game was obviously designed with quick, bite-sized sessions in mind. It’s perfect for waiting in line at the bank. Make sure you can still pay attention to what’s going on around you, though. Push Panic is pretty engaging stuff. It’s more than capable of holding you in thrall while the people queued up behind you yell obscenities.