Insecticide by Stuart McLean icon

Insecticide ($0.99) by Stuart McLean is an insect-ridden take on classic match three gameplay.

The app comes packed with several different gameplay modes, as well as a fresh set of buggy graphics, but it’s not quite enough to keep the mix afloat. Insecticide’s mechanic is a solid one, but with only marginal amounts of innovation on the genre, the game is far from being the next Bejeweled.

Insecticide by Stuart McLean screenshot

For those familiar with more popular titles like Aurora Feint, Insecticide’s gameplay will feel homey and simple.

The app presents the user with a grid full of insects. From there, it’s the user’s job to arrange the bugs in sets of three or more, running up and down or left and right. Once aligned, the critters vanish, and are replaced by a hefty score while new specimens fall in from above.

It’s nothing new on the iPhone, though the developers have made an effort to keep things fresh: Insecticide comes with a wealth of different game modes, including a classic flavor with over 50 levels. There’s also an endurance mode, which tests just how long the player can keep the matches coming before ultimately falling under. If cross country insect matching isn’t your kick, Insecticide also sports three different varieties of timed gameplay, as well as an endless mode.

Add Game Center integration, including leader boards and achievements, and you’ve rounded off everything Insecticide has to offer. But is it enough to distinguish the app from other, more lauded matching games in the App Store?

Insecticide by Stuart McLean screenshot

Sadly, not quite. Perhaps the game’s freshest gameplay element is the ability to move bugs to anywhere on the game board, unlocking matches from up to several squares away. However, even this isn’t enough to help the app compete with larger, similarly priced games available for the iPhone. There’s simply too much history behind the match three genre, and without a flagship feature to tout, Insecticide quickly falls behind.

The app’s graphics are cutesy and entertaining, though the game board itself often felt stale, as the sprites are static during gameplay. With more animated graphics overall, as well as the introduction of several power-ups to the mix, Insecticide may yet be able to make a name for itself.

Until then, however, the only replay incentive the app offers is the drive to best the user’s previous high score: And even that wears thin after 30 minutes of casual play.

Insecticide is a solid if unoriginal match three game for the iPhone. Its lack of power ups, specials, or gameplay innovations means it can’t yet bat in the same ballpark as apps like Aurora Feint.

However, with a few more updates and some extensive overhauls, the game may yet be saved. The concept is cute, and the mechanic classic. With a combination like that, anything is possible.