Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G
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Some games are hard to describe; Match Panic from one man development studio Chaotic Box (who made the sadly underappreciated Silverfish) is not one of those games. Animals come down the line one by one, and the player must tap the side of the screen the animal is on, either left or right. That's the gameplay. There are two key hooks to the game, though First, the game is fast-paced, rewarding players for quickly making match combos. Secondly, the game gets a lot harder as multiple shapes are introduced per side, and the match line starts to get increasingly complex.
Match Panic doesn't sound very difficult, but once 3 or 4 shapes per side are introduced, the game becomes a mental challenge to try and figure out which is the correct input; and with the time limit and time penalty for a wrong input bearing down, it can become quite intense when trying to make those last few matches before the clock hits zero. The game comes with great pixel art of all the shapes, with Retina Display support, and gameplay that never chugs at all on modern devices. There's also Game Center leaderboards and achievements to top it off, with more than just high score leaderboards; there are also leaderboards tracking longest streak and other stats.
The visual design can be challenging to keep up with, especially once animals of similar colors start getting unlocked; it is significantly easier to tell the panda and red squid apart than it is to tell the frog and cactus apart. Sometimes getting a more logically-arranged set of shapes is the key to higher scores, though skill is still a key element.
Match Panic is simple yet addictive fun that the kids can easily pick up and enjoy, but is challenging and addictive enough that adults shouldn't pass up on the game, even if the icon for the game is a panda with a frog on its head.