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Developer: Robert Topala
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

If there’s an axiom that best describes the game market, it has to be, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It doesn’t just feel like I review a new or revamped color-matching puzzle game each week, I checked; for the last month that’s been the literal truth. As this genre clearly continues to appeal, the challenge for developers is finding a neat twist without taking away from the core simplicity. Boomlings, a recent App Store freemium contender, does an admirable job on both fronts. With the full game included with no hidden cost, no playtime restrictions or paywalls, and only moderately intrusive ads, it’s definitely worth downloading.

I’m figuring we all get the basic premise. Players are faced with a grid and some tiles, in this case with chubby cartoonish faces and bright colors, and have to move the pieces around the playing field to connect four that are like-colored. Groupings then explode off the game board and new faces appear in random locations.

While Boomlings isn’t groundbreaking, it functions in a way that requires players to strategize and prioritize. As the name suggests, the goal is to create explosions. Bigger is better. Players have to decide whether to go for huge combos or just make easy matches. With no time constraints and the ability to move a tile to any space on the board as long as there is a clear path, players can take their time – and press their luck – trying to blast through levels with intricate arrangements.

Add to that various obstacles from pipe openings that release extra faces onto the board, tiles that freeze others in place, or worse, death skulls which must be detonated in a set number of moves, and the puzzle element comes to the fore. Bombs that detonate surrounding tiles and blobs that change the colors of adjacent tiles add more levels of strategy to the game.

The whole thing is free to play. Those who hate ads or have no patience, though, may want to go for the premium version, a $.99 in-app purchase. In the free game there’s a few seconds of waiting between rounds and ads on the bottom of the screen. Beyond that, really all there is to buy is the in-game currency or a gold doubler. Gold unlocks a wide assortment of special items and power-ups. For a freemium title it’s actually not all that hard to build up a supply the hard way. And, without any extras, the game is not only enjoyable, I suspect the purchases would actually remove a lot of the appealing puzzle elements.

There’s nothing to nit-pick. Boomlings looks good, is highly polished and doesn’t abuse the freemium model. It’s a great time waster with habit-forming potential.


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