The lights are on
I play a lot of games. I don’t know how many faces I’ve stabbed, races I’ve won, and barrels I’ve blown up over the years. As much as I love doing all of those things, I also spend a lot of time matching three jewels/animals/skulls and making them disappear. A big chunk of my evening routine is spent swiping objects on my iPad while I’m relaxing in bed. I’ve found a few games from the match-three genre that I’ve really enjoyed, and I’ll share my recommendations here. If you think I missed any, let me know in the comments, and I’ll check ‘em out.
Bejeweled Blitz(pictured above)I was a big fan of PopCap’s timer-based Bejeweled offshoot when it was on Facebook. The iOS version is even better. Like all of the games on this list, a touchscreen interface is leagues better than using a mouse. In Bejeweled Blitz, you match gems while a clock ticks down from 60 seconds. Larger combos net gems with special properties, and you can also pick up special upgrades by using in-game currency. Bejeweled Blitz is different from a lot of games that support microtransactions, in that it’s completely playable (and great) even if you don’t spend a dime on it. There’s a nice social component to it, too, with Facebook leaderboards that reset weekly.
Zookeeper BattleOn its surface, Zookeeper Battle is a Bejeweled Blitz clone. The clock is halved, but you’re still racing against time to find as many matches as possible. The twist (and it’s quite brilliant) is that it’s a head-to-head battle against other online players. The different animals are categorized in either attack or defense, and matching them earns points in those two areas. After each 30-second round, the two players go at it. You don’t take damage as long as your defense bar has any juice left in it, though it’s depleted every second. Your attack score whittles away your opponent’s health once their defense is down. When your health is totally drained (or optimally, after you eliminate your rivals’ meter) the match is over. There are a few interesting powerups, including one that turns your opponent’s animal icons black and white. I’m not a fan of the game’s energy system (you can only play a match if you have energy, which refreshes every six minutes…unless you buy potions), but the game is a blast otherwise.
Dungeon RaidThe rest of the games on my list are a bit different, in that you don’t slide the gems or whatever into position. Instead, you drag lines across the screen, connecting matching icons. Dungeon Raid is an interesting mix between a puzzle game (I’m just going to call them puzzle games from this point on, OK?) and a Roguelike. You build a character, upgrade their loot, and battle monsters and bosses. Eventually, you die. As you play, you unlock additional character classes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Dungeon Raid gets quite challenging as you progress, which makes it especially rewarding when you manage to survive just a little longer.
Platforms: Android, iOS
Puzzle CraftHey, it’s another game with resources and upgrades! Puzzle Craft moves the action up a little bit. Instead of delving into dungeons, you’re in charge of a fledgling community. You play the puzzle areas (a mine and a field) to get resources, which can be used to build a variety of buildings, upgrades, and equipment for your town. This is another one of those games that I plowed through over the course of a few weekends. The developers promise that additional content is on the way, so I haven’t deleted it yet — even though my kingdom is maxed out.
10000000One of the best things about 10000000 is hearing someone try to pronounce it. Usually people just say “One, zero, zero, zero… zero… you know, that one puzzle thing.” 10000000 is similar to Dungeon Raid in that you’re upgrading a character and taking them through a dungeon, though you actually get to see your guy and the dungeon in this game. As you match icons representing magic, physical attacks, and resources, your character moves on an auto-scrolling band adjacent to the puzzle area. You have to keep an eye on both sections, using keys to open doors or risk getting pushed off the edge of the scrolling screen. You return to areas over and over again, though you’ll be facing the same challenges with better equipment and special abilities. I played it obsessively over a weekend and unlocked everything, and I was completely satisfied with my purchase when I turned it off.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I discovered Dungeon Raid last year. It's a great time killer.
Notable game not in Jeff's list is
Triple Town is an excellent alternative take on match-3-like gameplay. It's free to download, go check it out. It's on iOS and Android.
The Fist two games look cool.