PC Review #137: Swapperoo

15th January 2016 Cat: Uncategorized with No Comments »

Title: Swapperoo
Developer: Fallen Tree Games
Platforms: PC, IOS Universal
Price: $9.99 (PC), $2.99 (IOS)

I’m not the biggest fan of match-3 puzzlers outside of the genre hybrids like Hero Emblems and Puzzle Quest. So it was a nice surprise that I enjoyed Swapperoo as much as I did. Although, perhaps I should have expected it; Fallen Tree Games had proven themselves with the excellent series of Quell games and Swapperoo evolves the traditional match-3 formula in interesting ways to deliver a surprisingly strategic puzzler.

At its core, Swapperoo follows the same principals as any other match-3 game – connect three or more like items on a grid, removing those matched items from the grid, and so on – but that’s where the similarities end. The first and most crucial change is that you only move certain tiles on the grid, and furthermore, only move these triangular tiles in the direction they’re pointing. This change alone makes matching a strategic affair, requiring planning moves ahead and thinking if or how to move tiles around the grid,

But soon Swapperoo adds more elements into the mix. Each new addition introduces a new hazard or new caveat to the basic match-3 formula. Suddenly you have tiles that explode after a certain amount of turn, ending your game; now every move you make matters. Then you have sawblade tiles that destroy any tile they collide with; careless moves will throw your grid into chaos, but with planning and careful maneuvering, you can use the sawblade to clear the path for other tiles and set up some high-scoring matches.

And those two are only the start. Tiles that needed to be protected, tiles locked in place, and more continue to add new wrinkles and challenges to the puzzles. On top of those unique tiles, Swapperoo also gives you access to three special abilities, to be used at the most opportune moments: moving a specific tile in any direction, increasing the time on the bomb tiles, and completely detonating the grid. Powering-up these abilities require calculated matches, so each use shouldn’t be wasted.

The game features both a hefty selection of handcrafted levels, with unique objectives ranging from simply making a certain number of matches to only making matches with specific tiles, and 38 randomized challenges to truly test your skills and offer long-term replay value.

Swapper is available on Steam, as well as IOS; an Android version is expected soon.

IOS Review #109: Blown Away

9th January 2016 Cat: Uncategorized with No Comments »

Title: Blown Away: Secret of the Wind
Developer: Black Pants Studio
Platforms: IOS Universal
Price: $2.99

Besides being quirky and/or having a unique art style, the only definite thing you can say about the games from Black Pants Studio is that they’re diverse. From the hand-drawn mirrored landscapes of Symmetrain to the 3D platforming and environmental dicing of Tiny & Bing, each of their games seems to try something different. Blown Away: Secret of the Wind is their newest iOS game and it combines auto-running and fast-pacing puzzling in a charming and colorful package.

Hendrik is unfortunately having a bad day. Through a gust of wind, Mother Nature took away not just his home, but his hair too. Now he travels a weird and dangerous world, collecting the pieces of his house along the way. For the unprepared, this land would prove to be an insurmountable challenge, between deadly gaps, roaming monsters, and raging flames, among other hazards. But Hendrik has a unique tool in his arsenal: a pair of teleporting boots, that Blown Away’s puzzles and platforming revolve around.

In each of the game’s 120 levels, you walk to the right automatically, recharging your boots with each step. Tapping the screen teleports you to that location, even as you’re falling to certain doom. The charging element is what turns a relatively simple mechanic into a puzzler. Your boots only charge when you’re moving, and you only have a limited amount of teleports, so reaching the end of a level means assessing the level and figuring out where to teleport so you have enough distance to recharge. But distance isn’t the only thing to consider; timing is important as well if you want to evade patrolling monsters and crushing sawblades.

The auto-running and boot recharge complement each other nicely, forcing you to always pay attention to the path ahead, thinking of how many teleports you’ll need to cross a gap, where you should teleport to and when. Through that simple single-tap mechanic, Blown Away delivers both puzzles on the go and the arcade-y thrill of dodging traps, and it’s all presented in a vibrant hand-drawn art style that brings to mind old-style cartoons.

Blown Away is available for $2.99.