Developer: Radiangames
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

One of the drawbacks of rapid game creation is that it allows for clones to be created faster than ever. Plenty of folks took from Flappy Bird and Threes in order to create games that were only slightly different. 2048 is essentially a regression of the game mechanics of Threes, and has co-opted its popularity.

SideSwype-4SideSwype-5But what smart developers do is to take the games that inspire them, and turn them into something that resembles the original but is still new. Breakfinity by Phil Hassey does this for Flappy Bird by being a small game built around replayability in a similar vein, not by being about flapping. And SideSwype does this for Threes.

SideSwype has a familiar setup: a small grid, swiping to move all blocks in a particular direction, random spawns of new blocks, but instead puts it in context of a match-3 game. The 5×5 grid contains two differently-colored blocks, of which three in a row make for a match that eliminate the blocks. New blocks spawn three at a time at random spots on the board to start out, but eventually increase in number as players score more points. As well, blocks that require matches of four or five come into play, with the caveat that they can serve as a match of less than their number, but won’t be eliminated. This makes them harder to get rid of as they require a particular setup in order to get rid of them. That’s how the challenge builds over time: players must find ways to keep the board clear as the game throws more crowding in the way.

SideSwype-1SideSwype-3The swiping is part of what makes Threes so satisfying: it just feels good to undertake the raw act of play. Similarly, swiping blocks feels incredibly satisfying here, in large part because of the way that blocks wind up slamming against walls and each other, and the explosions that come from each block. It just feels fun to play, to undertake these otherwise-rote motions. That’s why SideSwype is a clever iteration: it understands the nature of what inspired it at an innate level, and seeks to replicate that feeling in a way that’s similar but not exact. SideSwype feels like its own thing.

Now, the game is a bit chaotic and strategy can be hard to figure out at first, though tactics like preventing checkerboarding and getting rid of high-value blocks (particularly since they can help clear out the board) are key. As well, the interface makes the score kind of blend in, and it feels like a funny number rather than something concrete due to the bonuses that can accrue. Still, SideSwype is a tremendously-satisfying puzzler, and I hope more developers inspired by Threes take this approach of iterating and creating something new, rather than the next 2048.

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