It’s hard getting excited about Match 3 games as they have been done repeatedly on the iPhone. This genre uses the formula that was popularized by the legendary Bejeweled, and there has been a steady stream of developers trying to figure out ways to bring a new energy to this type of gameplay. Puzzlings offers a unique take on the Match 3 category through unique visuals, customization and new control conventions.
Upon launching the game, you’ll be treated to a cute little story that provides context for the game world. You assume the role of a Puzzling (think of a Gumby and Teletubby love child), in a world called Wardrobia. The goal is to find eight talismans tucked away across eight diverse provinces, with a combined total of 40 levels. Unfortunately, the story isn’t expanded upon throughout the game, but it’s a silly little preface that should put a slight smile on your face.
I think I’ll go on a walkabout.
Puzzlings takes the Match 3 conventions you’ve come to love (or hate) while adding its own rules. On a basic level, the core mechanics of lining up three or more colors to eliminate blocks still remain. Puzzlings adds new tools for users by allowing you to rotate and shift groups of blocks with simple tap and drag gestures. On later stages, new types of blocks are introduced that mix things up, with different rules for movement. These additions made a big difference, keeping the game fresh and new, something we didn’t expect from a Match 3 game.
The combo meter is something you’ll need to keep an eye on. Once it’s depleted, it’s game over. But on the flip side, a full combo meter triggers the introduction of item blocks. Piecing together four segments of an item block twice in a level marks the completion of that level. Each item block also gives your Puzzling one of over 120 pieces of clothing and accessories that can immediately be equipped. If you’re not in the mood to change your Puzzling’s appearance on the spot, there’s an interactive dressing room that houses the various pieces of wearable swag (eyes, noses, hats, shirts, pants, etc.) that can be accessed from the options screen.
Dressed for success.
We’d describe the look and feel of Puzzlings as a psychedelic coloring book. Vibrant colors and purposefully weird designs rule the world of Wardrobia. Navigating around Puzzlings is done by way of an animated home backdrop featuring several interactive hotspots. Taking pictures of your decked-out Puzzling (which saves to your camera roll), changing clothes and reviewing statistics are a few of the options that are available.
Each of the eight provinces look markedly different, but it’s a shame that the same background music is looped repeatedly. While we can see some folks being totally turned off by the art style in Puzzlings, we’re fans of the approach executed here.
There’s a lot to like about Puzzlings. We feel that it has introduced some new thinking into the overcrowded Match 3 set. Our only major quibble is the complete omission of multiplayer. In addition to the lack of any local or Internet wifi action, there aren’t any built-in tools to easily show off your scores and statistics on various social media platforms. The precedent has been set with other excellent puzzle games like Trism or Polly’s Popping Parrots, so it’s a bit disappointing.
All things considered, Puzzlings is rock solid where it really counts. We feel this game’s high level of polish, lengthy single player campaign, and genre-disrupting gameplay are worth its $3 asking price.