Developer: Retro Dreamer
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad, iPhone 3G

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

The App Store lacks not for match-3 games. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of them on the App Store in one form or another, as people just seemingly can’t get enough of them. It’s very easy to become jaded of the genre as a whole, until a game like Linkoidz brings more of an arcade-style intensity that is rarely seen in other iOS match-3 games, and you’re reminded of why there are so many to begin with.

Linkoidz is similar to a game like Magical Drop, where the objects you match are descending upon you from the heavens, and your goal is to make matches by pulling the Linkoidz down into your queue, and launching them back up into the playing field to match 3 or more. Then, any identical Linkoidz that are in contact with the match are eliminated as well. As the Linkoidz stack up past a certain point, it starts to wear down your shield bar, so you must clear up the stacks of Linkoidz to allow your shield to regenerate. It’s a mechanic that can be tricky to explain in words, but it takes only a minute or two to understand when you actually play it.

Linkoidz may be a match-3 game, but it is fun. It has an intense pace to it, and many of the more challenging levels in the progression require a level of focus and on your feet planning that is more akin to an action game (or to a puzzle game like Tetris) when it gets very difficult. You can play through 30 levels with individual objectives, or in Endless, Sprint, and Zen modes, giving you a great variety of modes to play with. Thankfully, the controls work exceptionally well, being very accurate as you quickly swipe up and down rows and columns to pull down and shoot back up Linkoidz, even when you’re under pressure to swap around pieces quickly. As well, the game is a universal app, running in native mode on the iPad, and with Retina Display graphics on those devices that support it. For leaderboards, achievements and challenges, the game supports both OpenFeint and Game Center.

The biggest problem with Linkoidz is that the graphics are kind of lifeless at times. While the Linkoidz and special enemies that you have to eliminate are all animated, everything else, especially the hero character who shoots the Linkoidz feels a bit static. He doesn’t feel like a character, he feels like a piece of computer artwork that occasionally moves around to what happens on screen.

Even if this is a match-3 game, the faster action-oriented pace of the game makes it feel much more fun than other games in the puzzle genre. There are a ton of match-3 games on the App Store, but Retro Dreamer has something special here. Linkoidz is frantic and addictive, exactly what great puzzle games should be. Even if you’re jaded on match-3 games, Linkoidz is worth playing.

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