Match-3 popping games are nothing new. Most people are familiar with the benchmark of the genre, Zuma, as well as retreads like Blackbeard’s Assault. Stoneloops! of Jurassica is the latest to spring up in this crop, mixing in a prehistoric theme with a few twists on the gameplay that is absolutely flawless and original in its execution.
This must be what extinction feels like!
As one would expect from a popping game, the goal is to destroy a chain of rolling balls by matching colors before it reaches the end. Instead of a rotating, stationary cannon, such as the guns in Blackbeard’s Assault or the Zuma frog, Stoneloops! replaces the firing mechanic with a single slider on the bottom of the screen. The gun can only fire in one direction, which forces some more creative thinking and patience when dealing with the snaking paths in each level. The developer also included a pointer so you can precisely aim your shot.
There are three control methods — full touch, on-screen buttons and tilt. While they all work fine, the on-screen controls seem like a step backward when compared with the other options. The full touch control is the easy winner out of these choices.
Stoneloops! of Jurassica adds an innovative new mode called Grab ‘N’ Shoot–this can be best described as a reverse take on the classic mode. Instead of firing balls from an infinite pool of randomly colored balls, gameplay involves using balls already on the board. It’s more or less rearranging the balls to achieve a matching chain. This adds a strategic element to the game that even seasoned players will appreciate. It plays smooth and makes for an entirely new experience in this crowded genre.
Stoneloops! drives gameplay forward by providing upgrades for homes as you travel through each of Jurassica’s five areas–jungle, desert, swamp, glacier and volcano. While the upgrades do nothing to impact gameplay, they add some incentive, if only to see what the next addition will be. Upgrades are paid for through gems that are collected upon completion of each level. Each area has 15 levels, coming out to a grand total of 75–quite a lot for a match-3 type title.
Power-ups are an integral part of any match-3 game, but Stoneloops! adds some unique and much more interesting variations. For example, a spear allows you to carefully pick out and destroy single balls, a thunderbolt destroys all balls directly vertical to the shooter and a multicolor ball changes the color of a ball to that of those adjacent to it. There are also occasional bonus rounds in the game, where you must break stones in order to gain additional power-ups at the start of the next round.
This is one cool game.
To complement the 75 unique levels for each of the game’s two modes, replay value is added through trophy achievements. There are eight in all, which can be upgraded a total of three times by completing goals, like collecting a certain number of jewels from the flying pterodactyl at the end of each level or by using a certain number of power-ups.
The game’s polished presentation really makes it hard to put down. From the layout of the menus to the explosion of tiny shards that drop to the bottom of the screen when you match three balls, it’s clear PlayCreek put some effort into making the game look stunning. As for the sound, it’s a small gripe, but the voice acting is annoying. The good news is that it can be turned off, but it’s complemented by a stylized, original soundtrack.
Stoneloops! of Jurassica is easily a must have match-3 fans and casual gamers alike. Its unique game modes, top notch gameplay and quality presentation make it a steal at its current $0.99 sale price.