Developer: Sonic BOOM!, Inc.
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1

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

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

There’s nothing puzzling about this cute title: it’s a match-3 bundled up in an adorable theme and a focus on item collection. Puzzle gamers who like match-3 games such as Bejeweled will enjoy Puzzlings’ quick, simple gameplay. It’s hard for a game like this to stand out, but Puzzlings is certainly a match-3 game worth looking at.

img_0177 The actual gameplay is straightforward and familiar. You have to match at least three blocks for them to disappear, and this is accomplished by “flipping” or “rotating” rows. Dragging across a line “flips” (reverses) the blocks in that line; to rotate blocks, you simply draw a square around them. The controls are extremely simple and work very well. As you clear blocks, more fall from the sky and into the 6×6 grid, allowing relentless combos to continue for quite a few moves.

Certain pieces require special care. For example, a special circular shape will occasionally appear, divided into four separated blocks. The four pieces must be reunited for the shape to clear. Later on, other blocks appear, such as 2×1 and 2×2 blocks, which must be matched more carefully and create obstacles.

The game revolves around a story mode that takes you all over the world of Wardrobia, visiting different locales and uncovering hordes of items along the way. In each round, you receive boatloads of unlockable items, which can be worn by your character. But there are so many items that sometimes, you’ll feel like it’s just too easy to get more.

img_0175There are some variations on the gameplay. Each of the 8 locations (provinces, in the game) contains arcade, puzzle house, and arcade challenge stages. Arcade mode relies on a combometer (essentially, a timer) at the top of the screen and simply mandates that you finish, preferably quickly. The puzzle house level presents you with a layout and tasks you with removing the blocks with as few moves as possible. Arcade challenge mode is essentially arcade mode, but with 5 circle-objects to complete.

The difficulty level is one of the main things to consider when looking at Puzzlings. If you’re an experienced gamer, the easy pace and gentle learning curve will be a huge turn-off, but this game is clearly geared towards younger kids and “casual” players or nongamers. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and it drips with cutesy graphics. The later levels are fairly challenging, but they won’t hold the attention of a skilled gamer for too long. If you’re looking to buy for a kid, though, they’ll be a perfect fit.

Puzzlings is a well-done match-3 that focuses on collecting items, with an eye towards the younger set. I personally thought that the items were nice, but certainly not necessary and too easy to collect; there isn’t much to encourage replaying of levels. After some time, the gameplay gets dull and repetitive, a common ailment among match-3s. But as I said, for a casual player, this game might be just the fit. It’s your call!

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