Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Spin It is a thoroughly average puzzle game, and there are certainly plenty of those. However, the things that make it so average are themselves kind of interesting. Basically, it’s a great example of how a game’s design and its presentation can subtly contradict and undermine each other.
Spin It is a match-3 puzzle game, but instead of swiping tiles on a square grid, players rotate pieces of a circular board to align colorful columns. It’s not the first or only game to use this layout; anyone who’s played Perplexity will find it familiar, but it’s still a pretty fun and unique twist on a tired formula. Carefully spinning sections of the wheel feels like cracking a safe, and making a match feels like unlocking the treasure within.
That initial set-up is fine, but from there a bunch of tiny misguided design choices begin to erode the enjoyment. There’s only one mode - a Time Attack mode where players must make as many matches as possible in one minute. One would then expect the game to encourage players to be fast and frantic, and in some ways it does. There’s a combo meter that depletes with each move with no matches. Power-ups like color erasers and bonus time help players hang on for just a few more precious seconds.
However, by and large Spin It has none of the urgency that its design implies and almost demands. Making matches by spinning the wheel is a deliberate process better suited to a slower, more Zen-like puzzle game. Meanwhile, the stark aesthetic makes good use of simple colors and white space, but it’s also too calm and relaxing for a game supposedly about speed. Sound effects are minimal and the music, one of the most effective ways to energize an experience, is nowhere to be heard. As the timer ticks closer to zero during each round, players should be tense and excited. Here though, they’ll probably just shrug.
Spin It was most likely never destined to be a masterpiece, but it could’ve at least been a fun little puzzle game. However, by failing to fully understand how its conflicting design and presentational choices affect the player, it doesn’t even live up to that more modest potential.