Developer: Rovio Stars
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.07.12
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Glance at the Juice Cubes screenshots and one would be forgiven for dismissing it as ‘just another’ Candy Crush Saga clone. Yes, Juice Cubes does owe a heck of a lot to the almighty candy-based puzzler. However, that doesn’t stop Rovio Star’s latest from being pretty darn fun at times – even if, predictably, it’s somewhat reliant upon in-app purchases.

Spanning over 165 levels, there’s a lot to sink one’s teeth into. Which probably explains why the first couple of dozen levels aren’t overly challenging. Juice Cubes eases players in gently, introducing mechanics that they’re probably already well-versed in. Players must match up different fruits in order to gain points and, ultimately, profit.

juicecubes7juicecubes3Some stages might involve reaching a set high score within a strict time limit, while others involve clearing certain tiles of the sand that clutters the way. Then there are the ‘drop the buckets to the bottom of the screen’ stages which require a different kind of strategy. It’s something that many Match-3 style puzzle games have implemented recently, but Juice Cubes does it well.

Perhaps most importantly, Juice Cubes actually feels quite strategical at times. For instance, creating fruit bombs is very important to success. This is done by connecting up 4 or more of one fruit to create a bomb, which can then be linked to other explosives in order to clear a significant number of tiles at once. It’s a simple concept but one that quickly proves important. Requiring a little more thought than simply clearing tiles, it adds to the fun that Juice Cubes offers, too.

juicecubes6juicecubes1It’s not all plain sailing for Juice Cubes, however. Predictably, it’s the monetization side of things that let it down. An energy system resides but it’s fairly unobtrusive and generous. Gold bars are used to buy power-ups, something that is handy but not vital. What is essential, however, is using such bars to unlock new sections of the game in order to progress. This can be circumvented by getting friends to play and send relevant help but it is an inconvenience. I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed Juice Cubes enough that I’d be half-tempted to still spend some money, but those looking for a free ride might not be so keen.

Adjusting a popular format has worked well for Juice Cubes. It sticks close to the source material but still feels fresh enough to be enjoyable. Just be wary of those social/freemium elements.


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