Simple, yet challenging and elegant. An oxymoron of sorts, but in this case a succinct way to describe a great puzzle game. CRASH! is a color matching puzzler, and although this is definitely not a novel concept in this day and age of the App Store, its simplistic approach, challenge, and elegant graphics put it in a class all its own.
The concept of CRASH! is very familiar– eliminate matching blocks to survive. If you fail to do so and the blocks reach the end of the screen, game over. Three different game modes allow for three different game experiences. The first, “Think,” requires a strategic approach to meet the objective of eliminating as many blocks as possible. There is no time limit, so you are be able to plan strategically without feeling the rush of a clock.
“React” is a mode that requires more reflex than strategy. In this mode blocks continuously fall as you race against the clock trying to last as long as possible. The final mode, appropriately named “Crush,” is a combination of the Think and React modes, requiring a healthy mix of strategy and quick reflexes to get the highest score. All three game modes give players a healthy dose of varied challenge.
Aside from game modes, CRUSH! offers six unique power-ups. Power-ups unlock individually as certain numbers of blocks are crushed, and are available starting the next game. Each power-up is similar in that they ultimately help you eliminate more blocks, however they function in very different ways. In an attempt to avoid ruining the element of surprise by going into detail about the powers, I’ll simply say this: play the game, do well, unlock powers, and be pleasantly surprised.
But the questions remains: what makes CRUSH! great? First and foremost, the addictive nature of “I can do better next game,” and the “just one more try: mentality. After each game no matter the mode, I kept finding myself coming back for more. Second, the graphics. A limited color palette doesn’t keep this game from being beautiful. A simple five color scheme and the ability to change backgrounds gives this game a polished look. Lastly, the trio of addictive gameplay, beatiful graphics, and welcoming challenge make CRUSH! a refreshing entry into the iOS puzzle-matching genre.
All achievement hunters and leaderboard obsessives, please beware, because CRUSH! does not sync up well with Game Center. While playing, none of the achievements I unlocked in the game showed up. As for Leaderboards, it showed incorrect scores, and when I got a new high score the leaderboad was not updated. In addition, although the gameplay is simplistic in its approach, it would still be helpful to have a turorial to explain basic gameplay (such as how to activate the powers– a two finger touch) and what the different powers do. When all is said and done, these are minor and unobtrusive complaints and won’t cause any major hindrance to gameplay.
In closing, I will save some good news for last: CRUSH! offers no in-app purchases and still only cost a buck. It’s one of the best matching games you can find in the App Store.