There are only so many match-three puzzles one can play before tiring of them. But matching three lollipops while an animated figure wearing bunny ears and wielding a plunger runs along the top of the screen brings a whole new face to the genre. Puzzle Family: StarPack provides this eccentric experience, but it also provides some features that are punishing for anyone with a reasonably mellow mind.
Puzzle Family: StarPack is true to its name, with both a family of eight puzzles and a family of 20 playable characters. The last part of the name refers to the game’s currency, which you need to use to unlock over half of the puzzles and all but one of the characters. You also need stars to unlock accessories like plungers, which aid your performance in the puzzles in various ways. In fact, two of the puzzles require a social connection to unlock (Facebook and Com2Us’s network).
Always happy to match three.
The entire game has characteristics that Korean games often provide; it’s energetic, wacky, and more colorful than you may have thought possible. The puzzles embody these traits, and though they use familiar puzzle types, each is styled with unique mechanics and artistic flair.
There are several match-three puzzles, but while one is based on finding various given patterns, another requires changing the colors of the pieces to make them match. One sub-par puzzle is based on furiously tapping squares, but another puzzle is based on manipulating block patterns in a limited number of moves. Another requires you to juggle three counting tasks. All are very fast-paced, which adds to the challenge, but inevitably ends in defeat, often giving a hectic feel.
Each puzzle rewards you with stars, but at a painstakingly slow pace. You begin with 3,000 stars, and each puzzle costs 1,200 stars. The characters cost anywhere from several hundred stars to nearly 32,000. On average, playing a puzzle rewards you with about 15 stars. We rarely even saw 50 stars rewarded. Of course, you can always buy more through in-app purchase, and that is what they are hoping you’ll do.
We liked the puzzles and their eccentric, innovative styles well enough. The structure of star currency, however, all but forces in-app purchases, and this breaks the game for us. For now, we advise caution.